As young people move back into cities, people have predicted the decline of suburbia for years. Articles such as this one from The Atlantic argued that "many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay."
Yet Joel Kotkin argues in The Wall Street Journal that the case for suburban decline may have been overstated, at the very least. "The great migration back to the city hasn't occurred," he points out. "Over the past decade, the percentage of Americans living in suburbs and single-family homes has increased." Meanwhile, urban housing prices are down, and "many ambitious new projects ... remain on long-term hold." Cities remain a great place for young people, but young people grow up, and the basic preferences, Kotkin implies, remain the same:
Virtually every survey of opinion, including a 2004 poll co-sponsored by Smart Growth America, a group dedicated to promoting urban density, found that roughly 13% of Americans prefer to live in an urban environment while 33% prefer suburbs, and another 18% like exurbs. These patterns have been fairly consistent over the last several decades.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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