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    Among America’s largest metropolitan areas, the economic leaders come in two flavors: Southern-fried and West Coast organic. The first group flourishes across a broad range of industries, fed by strong domestic in-migration and a friendly business climate. The other is driven largely by technology and high-end business services clustered around expensive but highly desirable urban areas.

    Read the entire piece on Forbes.com.

    Photo: Daxis, via Flickr, using CC License.


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  • 05/08/18--22:33: Birthplace of Capitalism
  • Today it is commonly believed that advanced business is a European or even American invention, while the Middle East is a place of eternal non-economic conflict. Yet in reality, the first enterprises and banks evolved in Iraq and Syria, many millennia ago. For most of human history, the bazaars of Aleppo, Baghdad, and Hormuz have been among the most outstanding, and prosperous, centres of global commerce.

    Between crises and bloodshed, this long tradition of commerce still lives on, and could promise a free market renaissance for the Middle East.

    Iraq and Syria feature heavily in the news, and the focus is nearly always on human suffering. Yet it was in the same countries that the first entrepreneurs, the first enterprises, the first early banks and the first early financial speculators emerged around 4,000 years ago. Around a thousand years later, the ancient Western civilizations of Greece and Rome imported the concept of enterprise from the Middle East.

    Yet the ancient Greeks and Romans never embraced it wholeheartedly. Whereas the ancient Middle Easterners viewed commerce and enterprise in a positive light, the Greeks and Romans --- particularly the aristocratic or patrician classes --- had a different opinion. They regarded it as low-status work, which should be left to foreigners, freedmen of low standing (helots and plebeians), and slaves. In many cases the business leaders, trade ship captains and bank managers of ancient Greece and Rome were often native of the Middle East.

    At Empire’s peak, Turkey and Syria were two of the Roman Empire’s wealthier provinces. When commerce was hampered by government central planning in the European parts of the empire, it thrived in the East. Centuries before the Romans arrived, standardized gold coins were minted in Turkey by King Croesus around 550 BC --- a historical first. The king's wealth is still remembered in the phrase “as rich as Croesus”.

    A common view today maintains it was Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, who first described the phenomenon of specialization in the marketplace. This makes perfect sense according to modern Western thinking. This jibes with the notion that the first well-functioning market economies developed in Europe, making Adam Smith the first to describe how the invisible hand of the market made society prosperous. However, Xenophon gave an almost identical description of specialization on the marketplace when writing about the economy of ancient Persia – 2,000 years before Adam Smith was born. Xenophon’s writing from ancient Persia also includes the first account of how a wise government should govern a market economy: based not on efficiency, but solely on making voluntary exchange possible and protecting private property rights.

    Already before the rise of Islam, the deep deserts of the Arabian Peninsula had thriving cities, which lived of the specialized manufacturing and export of goods. The Arab tradition of trade lives on in the faith and traditions of Islam. The Prophet Muhammed himself was a merchant for many years. He married his first wife Khadija, a renowned merchant capitalist, after having managed some of her trade affairs. Khadija is seen as one of the most important female figures in Islam, commonly regarded by Muslims as the “Mother of the Believers.” She is a rare example of a ancient female entrepreneur who had a demonstrable impact on history. When the tribe of Quraysh in Mecca gathered their caravans to embark upon the summer journey to Syria or the winter journey to Yemen, Khadija’s caravan equaled the caravans of all other traders of the tribe put together.

    During the Islamic Golden Age, Middle Eastern trading cities prospered through enterprise. During the early Middle Ages, Baghdad was one of the wealthiest cities in the world, as seen in the stories of the One Thousand and One Nights collection of Middle Eastern folk tales. In these tales, the heroes are often merchant capitalists, who – through their pursuit of wealth – benefit themselves as well as the rest of society. The Eastern tradition of portraying entrepreneurs as heroes differs sharply from the modern Western tradition, in which the agent of an economic enterprise is often the villain, and the hero characterized by his disregard for material wealth. Modern Western institutions are shaped in accordance with the principles of the market economy, but contemporary culture --- influenced in large part by elements of Christianity and its secular off-shoot, Marxism --- still retains a hostile view of enterprise, commerce, and wealth accumulation. On the contrary, these things are all celebrated in Middle Eastern cultures.

    Of course, the market-based exchange in the historic Middle East competed with feudalism, tribalism, and state control. In rural areas, much of the population was mostly self-sufficient farmers. Yet, in several cities in the Middle East, North Africa, India, and China mature and durable market institutions emerged. The Silk Road bound together these market centers, and merchants brought the goods from Middle Eastern market cities such as Aleppo to Europe and Africa. Today, the story of globalization and commerce is told almost exclusively from a Western viewpoint. However, much of the development occurred in the East and the South. Zanzibar and other trading cities across the Swahili Coast, for example, grew wealthy by attracting African, Arab, Persian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, and Chinese merchants.

    Proponents of economic freedom focus almost exclusively on the Western origins of free-market ideas. In fact, many of these ideas originated in Eastern philosophy. The Tale of the Moneyed Rat Trader is an old Indian folktale which explains how voluntary market exchange and capital accumulation can allow even the most impoverished individual to climb the social ladder. The idea that government tax revenues will fall when the tax rates reach a certain level is today associated with the U.S. economist Arthur Laffer. This theory was originally developed by the 14th century North African Arab intellectual Ibn Khaldun, who used the theory of stifling government taxation to explain the rise and fall of entire dynasties. In Qabus Nameh, a major work of Persian literature from the 11th century A.D., the mythological king of Iran, Kai Kavus, advised his son on economic matters. The ideas of rational self-interest expressed in this work lies very close to the thinking of Western free-market intellectuals such as Adam Smith and Ayn Rand.

    This long tradition of enterprise is evident also today. Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Jews, Kurds, Armenians and the myriad of people who inhabit the Middle East have widely different cultures. Yet they are all dealers and hagglers, with market exchange almost encoded into their cultural DNA. Middle Eastern immigrants to Europe and the Americas have high rates of entrepreneurship. It might not be recognized in the West, but there is a great deal of interest to shift towards free markets in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Corruption, oil-dependency and war have so far hampered the development – but a market renaissance for the Middle East is certainly a possibility. But this will also need changes in the attitudes of the west, as well as the other great capitalism, that of east Asia.

    There have always been two different forms of Western approaches to the Middle East. One is to trade openly, such as Venetians did during the Renaissance. By combining the Middle Eastern market model with their own ideas, the Venetians gave rise to the modern capitalist model which today has spread to most of the world. Today the US is all too comfortable with the British approach of gunboat diplomacy and sanctions. It’s likely that a more market-oriented approach could be more successful than the endless involvement in wars, particularly as the US no longer needs Mideast oil. Ultimately it is not possible to ‘fix’ the Middle East with military intervention. Encouraging free market exchange is the only peaceful way forward.

    At the very least, history teaches us a simple lesson: either goods will cross the borders of the Middle East, or armies will. Free market policy might be the solution for a region in which Marxism, religious radicalism and western intervention have all failed to bring stability.

    Dr. Nima Sanandaji is the president of ECEPR and author of 25 books. His most recent book The Birthplace of Capitalism: The Middle East has recently hit the book stores.


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  • 05/09/18--22:33: Slouching Towards Luxury
  • An article about the resurgence of independent bookstores has been making the rounds.

    "Between 2009 and 2015, more than 570 independent bookstores opened in the U.S., bringing the total to more than 2,200; that’s about a 35 percent jump after more than a decade of decline. The surprise recovery may hold lessons for other small retailers. Stores like Anderson’s are helping Harvard Business School professor Ryan Raffaelli solve an economic mystery. “I often say, these are stories of hope,” Raffaelli laughed."

    Bookstores may be following the same story arc of previous items disrupted by digital: the analog product becomes the luxury option. It goes something like this:

    • A digital (or other technologically enabled version) of an analog product is released

    • The tech version becomes the hot item

    • The tech version achieves marketplace hegemony

    • The high end market re-embraces the analog version as a luxury product

    Think about watches. Originally watches were mechanical devices that required winding, etc. Then the quartz watch came along and replaced the mechanical movement of the watch with an electronic one. Quartz watches – cheap, accurate, and no-wind – took over the market. Many old line watch makers fell on hard times. Then mechanical watches became the luxury item, with connoisseurs scoffing at quartz watches. There’s a thriving luxury watch industry to this day.

    The same thing happened with music. Vinyl gave way to cassette tapes, then CDs, then online digital. But in recent years vinyl has made a major comeback and is now a high end luxury option.

    I expect the same thing to happen with print. It was cool to get your information online when that was cutting edge. Now that everyone does it, hip folks want the print edition. We’ve seen a proliferation of high end, niche glossy magazines, for example.

    The retail experience may end up the same. Everybody goes online for convenience. But as online starts to saturate certain markets, the high end consumer will revert back to the in-store experience.

    It’s a pattern to keep an eye on for future products.

    This piece originally appeared on Urbanophile.

    Aaron M. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and an economic development columnist for Governing magazine. He focuses on ways to help America’s cities thrive in an ever more complex, competitive, globalized, and diverse twenty-first century. During Renn’s 15-year career in management and technology consulting, he was a partner at Accenture and held several technology strategy roles and directed multimillion-dollar global technology implementations. He has contributed to The Guardian, Forbes.com, and numerous other publications. Renn holds a B.S. from Indiana University, where he coauthored an early social-networking platform in 1991.

    Photo: Via Wikipedia (photographer not listed), CC BY-SA 3.0


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    Since 2014, the City Sector Model has been used to portray population trends by functional area within the 53 major metropolitan areas (major metropolitan areas). The current edition classifies small areas (zip code tabulation areas) by demographic factors into five categories (Figure 1). The first two are urban core (central business district and inner ring), while the last three are suburban or exurban. The suburban areas are largely within the continuous built-up urban areas, while the exurban areas are generally in the metropolitan areas, but outside the built-up urban areas.

    The advantage of this type of analysis permits much finer grained analysis of the urban form, principally splitting between areas similar to pre-World War II urbanization (urban core) and principally suburban (and exurban) areas that have developed since the war. The urban cores are denser and have lower levels of automobile use. The suburban and exurban areas are less dense and more automobile oriented.

    Previous urban core versus suburban and exurban analysis relied principally on municipal boundaries, and assumed the urban core to be defined by one or more central municipalities. However, such analysis classifies large suburban areas, such as most of New York City's Staten Island as urban core, while classifying large, dense, transit oriented areas adjacent to the city of New York, especially in New Jersey, and inner suburbs of Boston as suburban. Some central cities, such as Phoenix and San Jose are nearly all suburban in form.

    This article describes expansion of the City Sector Model to include the 52 additional middle-sized metropolitan areas, those with from 500,000 to 1,000,000 population in 2014 (the middle year of the 2012-2016 small area data used).

    Middle-Sized and Major Metropolitan Areas

    As previously reported, the 53 largest metropolitan areas had 14.5 percent of their population in the urban cores, according to data from the American Community Survey for 2012-2016 (See Note). 85.5 percent of major metropolitan area residents lived in suburban and exurban areas.

    The middle-sized metropolitan areas are even more dispersed, with considerably lower urban core population shares than the major metropolitan areas. In 2012-2016, the middle-sized metropolitan areas had 4.1 percent of their population in urban cores, less than one-third that of the major metropolitan areas, leaving them 95.9 percent suburban and exurban. Among the non-urban core classifications, the largest contrast was in the exurban areas, where 28.1 percent of the middle-sized metropolitan area residents lived, about three-quarters above the 16.4 percent share for the major metropolitan areas (Figure 2).

    The population growth rates by sector were similar in the two categories of MSAs between 2010 and 2012-2016. Among the major metropolitan areas, the newer suburbs had the strongest annual growth rate. The exurban growth rate was the second strongest, followed closely by the Urban Core: Central Business District (Figure 3) although this sector has by far the smallest share of the population.

    Similarly, the newer suburbs had the strongest growth rate in the middle-sized metropolitan areas, while the exurbs grew second fastest. Both urban core sectors dropped in population (Figure 4).

    Comparative Strength of Urban Cores

    A number of major metropolitan areas have comparatively strong urban cores, led by New York, where the urban core accounts for more 53.3 percent of the population. Boston’s urban core has 35.6 percent of its metropolitan area population, while Buffalo, San Francisco, Providence, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland have urban cores with more than 20 percent of the metropolitan population (Figure 5). However, eight major metropolitan areas ---all in the south and west --- have virtually no urban core (with pre-war urban form characteristics).

    The urban cores are much smaller in the middle-sized metropolitan areas. However, the strongest urban core, in Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is second only to New York, at 36.5 percent, ahead of even Boston (Figure 6). Scranton--Wilkes-Barre is an extraordinary story, having missed out on the suburban led prosperity experienced just about everywhere else in the United States. In 1910, Scranton--Wilkes-Barre ranked 18th in population among today’s metropolitan areas (present geographical delineation); in 1930, Scranton--Wilkes-Barre led Seattle in population. Yet, since that time, Scranton--Wilkes-Barre has experienced substantial economic reverses, the victim of declining coal production in the Wyoming Valley (also called the “Anthracite Valley”). In 1930, at its peak, Scranton--Wilkes-Barre had a population of 770,000, which by 2017 had fallen to 555,000. This 28 percent population loss was far greater than that of any other of the 107 metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 population. Only one other metropolitan area lost population, Pittsburgh (2 percent). Among the other metropolitan areas, all gained population, with the slowest growth in Youngstown (18 percent). Other rust belt metropolitan areas experienced larger gains, such as Buffalo (25 percent), Akron (82 percent) and Detroit (88 percent). The average metropolitan area population increase from 1930 to 2017 was 230 percent. However, Scranton--Wilkes-Barre may be in for a revival, located just beyond the expanding commuting shed of New York.

    Albany and Springfield, MA have urban cores above 15 percent, while Syracuse, Allentown, Toledo, Omaha, Des Moines and Bridgeport-Stamford have urban cores with 10 percent or more of their population. Seventeen middle-sized metropolitan areas have virtually no urban core. Combined, the 105 metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 population are 12.7 percent urban core and 87.3 percent suburban and exurban.

    The United States: Little Urban Core

    Little of America is urban core, even in the major and middle-sized metropolitan areas. Despite the impression often portrayed by the New York based national media, the dense urban cores have just a small fraction of the nation’s population. This applies not just to most big cities but most in the second ranks as well.

    Note: American Community Survey (ACS) Five Year data

    The ACS 5-year sample is collected over five years, in approximately weighted annual samples, from the first through the last year. It includes two general types of data, (1) demographic and (2) financial, which is inflation adjusted to the last year of the survey. Sometimes ACS 5-year data is characterized as relating to a specific year. This is incorrect, because the survey requires five years to complete. Its results reflect similar sized samples from each year. For example, the latest survey, 2012-2016 (used in this article) contains data from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The middle-year (in this case 2014) is probably most representative, but may be preferable to characterize the data as the range specified in the survey (2012-2016).

    Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), Senior Fellow for Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California). He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

    Photograph: Lackawanna County Courthouse, Scranton, PA in the Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, which has the strongest urban core of any middle-sized metropolitan area in the US. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lackawanna_County_Courthouse_008... (Wikipedia Commons).


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  • 05/11/18--22:33: The Urban Frontier Cabin
  • The current conundrum for many people is simple. You might want to live in one of the expensive bubbles of economic and cultural vibrancy in order to access good paying jobs and upward mobility. But the cost of property and rent are insane. You could live in a radically less expensive part of the country where homes and rent are mercifully low, but not everyone longs for a tract home on the edge of Houston. I’ve argued for years that there are all sorts of cost effective towns and cities in the Midwest that are far better than many people assume. But Buffalo or Cincinnati can be a hard sell for people who really want San Diego or Miami.

    A while back I walked past this van parked near my place in San Francisco. It was a high quality compact recreational vehicle that didn’t attract much attention to itself. I have a permanent Tiny House fixation and thought how much such a vehicle resembles a more discreet and nimble version of the cabin-on-wheels work-around. I priced this particular German engineered Canadian built model. It’s not cheap.

    I saw the same van a week later in a slightly different spot. And then again. And again. After a couple of months I realized this wasn’t necessarily someone passing through for a casual visit. It appears that someone was living in the van full time.

    Then I noticed this Dodge Ram van. Same same. It isn’t obvious from these photos, but the roof of this vehicle is fitted with various bits of equipment for natural light, ventilation, and solar panels. Notice the subtle interior drapes on a nondescript windowless cargo van. Someone’s living in there. And the Ram is a third the price of the German model. If purchased new a van might cost about $600 a month with a five year loan. There’s insurance, gas, maintenance, and a gym membership for showers and such. But compare that to the one bedroom apartment it’s parked in front of that’s renting for $5,400 – assuming you can find a vacancy and actually move in.

    This Ford van appeared across the street. From my window I spotted the solar panels. There were plugs and valves fitted on the sides of the vehicle for electricity and water connections as well as vents for mechanical systems. “The Shelter Project.” Kinda says it all.

    I’ve long noticed the RVs that populate the neighborhood. The larger vehicles are clearly more comfortable, but finding space to park them is a challenge in the city. And they aren’t exactly stealthy. To the extent that the inhabitants are clean, quiet, and behave respectably the authorities tend to leave them be, mostly because San Francisco cops have bigger problems to manage. But these folks are generally limited to non-residential areas if they’re going to do this for any length of time.

    There’s a construction boom all over the Bay Area with skyscrapers and suburban office complexes being built everywhere. I always ask these folks where they live and the answer is almost always two or three hours away where homes are less expensive. Construction crews typically car pool in, rent a shared motel room for the week, then head back to their families for the weekend. A significant proportion of these workers actually live in other states and commute in for several months then return home at the end of a project.

    I was at a construction site last week and noticed this pickup truck camper parked in a fenced off zone. It was quite homey and rustic like a little forest cabin, which I suspect is where the owner spends his time when he isn’t welding or pouring concrete.

    I wandered around and found multiple vehicles that looked like they were at least semi-residential in nature. Inside were mattresses, sleeping bags, ice chests, clothes, and other household accoutrements of a bachelor nature.

    This got me thinking and I turned to YouTube. Down the rabbit hole I went. Evidently this van living is a thing. The majority of the stories come from middle class people in high priced parts of the world like Canada, Australia, the U.K. and California. There are a LOT of these stories out there.

    I’m well aware of the various arguments against this sort of thing.

    “These videos of shiny young people living a carefree life in vans doesn’t accurately reflect the reality of being quasi homeless.”

    I agree. See here. In fact the people who make these videos will tell you all about the gory details of why van life isn’t perfect. They’ll also explain why the trade offs are sometimes worth it – or not.

    “These people living in vehicles aren’t paying their share of public services! They’re sponging off the rest of productive society!”

    In response I ask… Do you own a home you bought years ago? Has Prop 13 (in California) allowed you to pay property taxes based on the purchase price rather than the current market value? How’s that mortgage interest tax deduction working for you? Do you live in a rent controlled apartment? Are you renting out your spare room on Airbnb? Are you one of the folks who opposes construction of new housing in your town because you don’t want its character to change? Just sayin’.

    “This is insane. Normal people shouldn’t be forced to live in vehicles just because housing costs have gone nuts.”

    My reply. But y’are Blanche. But y’are.

    This piece first appeared on Granola Shotgun.

    John Sanphillippo lives in San Francisco and blogs about urbanism, adaptation, and resilience at granolashotgun.com. He's a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, films videos for faircompanies.com, and is a regular contributor to Strongtowns.org. He earns his living by buying, renovating, and renting undervalued properties in places that have good long term prospects. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.


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    The recently announced departure of New York City-based Alliance Bernstein for Nashville, taking more than 1,000 jobs with it, suggests a potential loosening of New York’s iron grip on the financial-services industry. Yet the move reflects a longer evolution that has seen financial firms leave not only New York but also other traditional centers—what one historian calls the “Yankee Empire”—that for two centuries dominated banking, insurance, and investment capital.

    Read the entire piece at City Journal.

    Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

    Photo: Kaldari [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons


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    You may remember Geoffrey West from his TED Talk about the scaling laws of cities that got a lot of press a while back. He has now turned his research findings into a book. Famed physicist Freeman Dyson just reviewed it for the New York Review of Books. His review includes this curious section about genetic drift I found interesting. This is something I’d be interested in hearing more about from geneticists.

    "West presents in his Figure 45 the scaling law relating the number of telephone conversations in cities to the number of inhabitants. The number of conversations scales with the 1.15 power of the population. The law is exactly the same in the two countries, Britain and Portugal, that maintain the most complete record of telephone calls. West considers telephone conversations to be a good indication of quality of life. More conversations mean more social interaction, more business deals, more exchange of ideas—more opportunities for individuals to push the society forward. His word “buzz” expresses his vision of the great city as the place where human progress happens. He sees the nonlinear scaling law confirming his view that the great city empowers each individual inhabitant to be a more effective innovator.

    West does not mention another scaling law that works in the opposite direction. That is the law of genetic drift, mentioned earlier as a crucial factor in the evolution of small populations. If a small population is inbreeding, the rate of drift of the average measure of any human capability scales with the inverse square root of the population. Big fluctuations of the average happen in isolated villages far more often than in cities. On the average, people in villages are not more capable than people in cities. But if ten million people are divided into a thousand genetically isolated villages, there is a good chance that one lucky village will have a population with outstandingly high average capability, and there is a good chance that an inbreeding population with high average capability produces an occasional bunch of geniuses in a short time. The effect of genetic isolation is even stronger if the population of the village is divided by barriers of rank or caste or religion. Social snobbery can be as effective as geography in keeping people from spreading their genes widely.

    A substantial fraction of the population of Europe and the Middle East in the time between 1000 BC and 1800 AD lived in genetically isolated villages, so that genetic drift may have been the most important factor making intellectual revolutions possible. Places where intellectual revolutions happened include, among many others, Jerusalem around 800 BC (the invention of monotheistic religion), Athens around 500 BC (the invention of drama and philosophy and the beginnings of science), Venice around 1300 AD (the invention of modern commerce), Florence around 1600(the invention of modern science), and Manchester around 1750 (the invention of modern industry).

    These places were all villages, with populations of a few tens of thousands, divided into tribes and social classes with even smaller populations. In each case, a small starburst of geniuses emerged from a small inbred population within a few centuries, and changed our ways of thinking irreversibly. These eruptions have many historical causes. Cultural and political accidents may provide unusual opportunities for young geniuses to exploit. But the appearance of a starburst must be to some extent a consequence of genetic drift. The examples that I mentioned all belong to Western cultures. No doubt similar starbursts of genius occurred in other cultures, but I am ignorant of the details of their history.

    West’s neglect of villages as agents of change raises an important question. How likely is it that significant numbers of humans will choose to remain in genetically isolated communities in centuries to come? We cannot confidently answer this question. The answer depends on unpredictable patterns of economic development, on international politics, and on even more unpredictable human desires. But we can foresee two possible technological developments that would result in permanent genetic isolation of human communities."

    Click through to read the whole thing.

    This piece originally appeared on Urbanophile.

    Aaron M. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and an economic development columnist for Governing magazine. He focuses on ways to help America’s cities thrive in an ever more complex, competitive, globalized, and diverse twenty-first century. During Renn’s 15-year career in management and technology consulting, he was a partner at Accenture and held several technology strategy roles and directed multimillion-dollar global technology implementations. He has contributed to The Guardian, Forbes.com, and numerous other publications. Renn holds a B.S. from Indiana University, where he coauthored an early social-networking platform in 1991.

    Photo: Geoffrey West. Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0


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    We are often told that America’s future lies in our big cities. That may no longer be entirely true. Some of the strongest job creation and population growth is now occurring in cities of 1 million people or less.

    In this year’s edition of our Best Cities For Jobs survey, we found that six of the 10 metropolitan areas with the fastest job growth are either mid-sized (150,000 to 450,000 total nonfarm jobs) or smaller (less than 150,000 nonfarm jobs). They also account for 18 out of the top 30. Smaller metro areas dominated job growth in a number of sectors, including manufacturing (all the top 20), information (all of the top 10) jobs and, less surprisingly, natural resources, construction and mining.

    Read the entire piece on Forbes.com.

    Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

    Dr. Michael Shires primary areas of teaching and research include state, regional and local policy; technology and democracy; higher education policy; strategic, political and organizational issues in public policy; and quantitative analysis. He often serves as a consultant to local and state government on issues related to finance, education policy and governance. Dr. Shires has been quoted as an expert in various publications including USA Today, NewsweekThe EconomistThe Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, and LA Times. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on CNN, KTLA and KCAL to name a few.

    Photo: Javin Weaver [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons


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    Madrid is the capital of Spain, as well as its largest built-up urban area, with an estimated 6.4 million population in 2018. Madrid’s urban area plus economically connected rural and small town areas make up the metropolitan area, which has nearly 7,000,000 residents. The area has an urban population density of 4,700 per square kilometer (12,200 per square mile), ranking it third among the European Union’s built-up urban areas over 1,000,000 population. Only Athens (6,000 and 15,400) and London (5,800 and 14,600) are denser. London’s higher density may be surprising, given the preponderance of interwar detached and semi-detached erected outside inner London.

    Like virtually all of the large built-up urban areas in the world, most of Madrid’s growth the last few decades has taken place outside the historic urban core (Graphic 1). The core city of Madrid itself reached nearly its present population level by 1970, with 3,120,000 residents. By 2011, the city had grown to only 3,198,000. This modest growth masks a substantial population loss of approximately 200,000 from 1970 to 1990.

    Since 1970, the suburbs (areas in the urban area outside the city of Madrid) have captured nearly 98 percent of the population growth. Since 1990, when the city’s population had fallen to its recent low, the suburbs have attracted 85 percent of the population growth. In 1970, nearly 90 percent of the urban area population was in the city of Madrid. By 2016, the city share of the population had declined to 51 percent. It seems likely that suburban Madrid will soon have more residents than the city.

    Commercial Centers

    The financial core of Madrid has moved from the central business district, far to the north, to the adjacent AZCA (Asociación Mixta de Compensación de la Manzana A de la Zona Comercial de la Avenida del Generalísimo) and Cuatro Torres (four towers) business areas (Graphics 2 to 4). AZCA contains unconventional twin towers that lean toward one-another (the “Gates of Europe”). Cuatro Torres includes the tallest buildings in Madrid. They are not among the world’s tallest, peaking at 250 meters and 815 feet high, ranking below 450th in the world, according to The Skyscraper Center. Yet, they are unusually prominent visually, because of the lower building heights in the area, but especially because they are built near the highest elevation in the central area. As a result, they can be seen for many miles, well into suburban areas, in virtually all directions.

    The dominance of these towers is well illustrated in the top photograph (by Eurostarshotel, credit at the bottom of the article), which is repeated for greater clarity as Graphic 2. This photograph shows the four towers, literally towering over virtually all other buildings in the city, with the leaning towers to the left.

    The central business district (CBD) has attractive architecture, much of it dating to the early 20th century and before (Graphics 5 to 16) . I was reminded of the similar architecture of central Buenos Aires, though it is more extensive in Madrid.

    Madrid is not unusual in having moved its principal financial center from the historic central business district. Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Moscow and Manila have established one or more larger centers with the historic core declining in importance, while Mumbai appears to be undertaking the same thing with the development at Bandra-Kurla.

    Madrid also has a large, much older, historic core, adjacent to the central business district, to which tourists flock (Graphics 27 to 32). The Royal Palace and Cathedral are nearby (Graphics 33 to 34)

    Urban Motorways

    Madrid is particularly well served by urban freeways (motorways). The inner ring is formed by the M-30, which has become a magnet for commercial development, especially on its eastern section. One website (Gizmondo) features the M-30 in an article entitled “Six Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever,” though the freeway was not removed at all (See Note). The M-30 was simply placed underground, and is reportedly part of the longest urban motorway tunnel system in Europe (Graphic 24 to 26).

    Overall, Madrid has four ring roads, including the M-30, the M-40, the M-45 and the M-50, though the M-45 and M-50 are incomplete. This is an impressive number, nearly equaling Beijing’s six virtually completed ring roads, the inner-most not a freeway.

    Despite the extensive national toll road system, Madrid’s motorways (freeways) do not have tolls for motorists. Generally motorways are free within the major metropolitan areas of Spain, like in France.

    As is to be expected, traffic congestion can be severe in the city (Graphic 23).

    Madrid’s Metro

    Madrid is also served by an extensive Metro (grade separated urban rail, also called subway, elevated or underground) system. A 2015 article indicates that Madrid’s Metro is the seventh longest in the world (294 kilometers). It has the sixth largest number of stations (301). In each of these categories, Madrid has the smallest built-up urban area population among the top 10 in each of these categories. However, Madrid falls far short of reaching the top ten in ridership, with 584 million annual passengers, somewhat more than one-third of the 10th ranked Paris Metro. Like what has become a familiar pattern in the US, Madrid’s ridership fell by 100 million rides between 2008 and 2016 (15 percent).

    High Residential Densities

    The high population density is evident not only in the city, but also the suburbs. Single-family dwellings and semi-attached houses (row houses or town houses) are fairly rare and found mostly in the affluent hills. Throughout the suburbs, housing is dominated by mid-rise tower blocks (Graphics 35 to 38).

    Spain’s Economic Advance

    Since becoming a democracy and entering the European Union Spain has made impressive progress. International Monetary Fund data indicates that since 1980 Spain’s gross domestic product per capita has risen 5 percent relative to Germany, 15 percent relative to France and 50 percent relative to Greece. With Ireland, Spain suffered more greatly in the Great Recession than most other European nations, though Ireland’s recovery has been stronger. Nonetheless, Spain is a much more prosperous nation than before.

    Note on Freeway Removals: In the cited article, two of the six examples remain and have been (or are being) moved underground, the M-30 in Madrid and Alaskan Way in Seattle. A third, Harbor Drive in Portland, was replaced by the new Interstate 5 alignment on the other side of the Willamette River. Two others were stubs planned freeways that were not completed, the Embarcadero in San Francisco and the Park East in Milwaukee. This leaves a single case of a significant length of freeway among the six that has been removed without replacement, in Seoul.

    Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), Senior Fellow for Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California). He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

    Photograph: Cuarto Torres Business Area in Madrid with the AZCA Business Area to the left (with the leaning towers). This photograph is also used as Graphic 2.
    Creative commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuatro_Torres_Business_Area.JPG


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    The sound-bite version of American politics tends to come from our dominant media centers on the coasts, while the right-wing counter-culture snarls back from the smaller cities and towns of the heartland. Yet the real future of America, including that of its politics, lies in a place with little voice in the political debates — suburbia (which includes the more far-flung exurbs).

    There is a wide and growing disparity between rural and urban core voters, but the suburbs remain roughly evenly divided. They are also demographically ascendant, as both rural areas and urban cores stagnate. The majority of Americans even in the metropolitan areas of over a million, upwards of 85 percent, live in low to moderate density, overwhelmingly automobile oriented, compared to under 15 percent in and around the urban core. More importantly, the suburban share continues to increase, as evidenced in last year’s Census estimates.

    Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

    Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

    Photo: Via Next Home.


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    In the rare moment that the Minneapolis weather allows and I have the time, I ride my bicycle instead of driving. I’m not one of those people who have a $4,000 bike wearing Lance Armstrong clothing, I ride slow and leisurely. I’ll admit, most don’t go slow and are fast bikers. If I want to go fast on a bike I have a Buell Motorcycle that is a whole lot quicker on two wheels than a bicycle. I’d rather get the exercise on my bike. This city is known to be one of the most walkable and bikeable cities in the nation.

    Yet it’s no secret that pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed in this town. By pedestrian deaths, that also includes those that ride bicycles.

    I live on 26th Street, a minor collector street which curves at my lot. The area that contains the bike lane is wider, but wider streets also encourage speeding, so cars coming from the west are typically driving faster than the 30 MPH limit, and if not paying attention or distracted, can easily misjudge the curve. On a regular basis we see cars wander into the bike lane. I have a choice when leaving my driveway, use the bike lane and take my chances, or use the sidewalk across the street to the next block, where the lane ends. After that, for a long distance, 26th Street is a narrow two-way street with short blocks, an occasional stop sign, and no bike lane. It does have a sidewalk on one side of the street. Long straight streets encourage speeding, but the multiple stop signs help keep traffic somewhat in line.

    Minnesota law does NOT prevent biking on sidewalks (unless specifically posted), and I’d be first to admit that riding anything fast on a sidewalk with pedestrians is dangerous – the keyword is fast. We respectfully slow down to a crawl when we must pass a pedestrian on the walk – in a very safe and friendly manner. I could choose to be another statistic in the skyrocketing deaths (or with a permanent injury) and ride in 26th Street.

    Last year, when slowly about to pass a 50ish woman jogging on the sidewalk, she stepped right in front of me with her hands crossed and told me to get off her ‘f#$king sidewalk’ and use the street. I was speechless. She said it’s illegal to use the sidewalk and I must use the street, intermixing ‘f#$ker’ and ‘asshole’ as she spoke. I could not even think of a good response but must have muttered something as I went around her waiting for the attack from behind, which never came.

    When there is a dedicated bike path far away from a street, we of course use it. It’s far away from the danger of two-ton vehicles undoubtedly moving at a speed somewhat higher than posted or intended. That said, in many cases those bike lanes are one way and not going our intended direction, so the choice is – ride in the street and take chances or use the sidewalk and be safe. Guess which one I’m using? The sidewalk that I’m legally allowed to use, and which seems to be an issue with many pedestrians.

    This past Sunday morning I rode to Uptown and was on the east side of Lake Calhoun. Wanting to head home, I had three choices.

    A. Use the one-way bike path and go three miles out of my way.
    B. Go on the narrow street that curves and take my chances.
    C. Use my legal right to be safe and use the sidewalk.

    I chose the sidewalk. A 50ish gent was walking his dog, so I passed at walking speed and he stepped in front and said: ‘You motherf#$ker, it’s illegal to ride in my sidewalk and get your f#$king ass on the street’. I said in fact it is legal for me to be on the walk and I’m not going in the street to be hit by a car. This exchange quickly deteriorated to something you’d expect in an upscale neighborhood of entitled and misinformed pedestrians.

    This is a big city – with associated big problems.

    Since you are reading this in New Geography, you have already read points and counter-points on the attempts of social engineering that seek to rid the world of cars which apparently caused the evil sprawl. In the imaginary world of social engineering planners intermix people and vehicles in as close proximity as possible to slow down the traffic, thus inconveniencing the car driver to the point where they might instead walk, bike, or better yet take the bus. The real world unfortunately has collateral damage from this intentional assault on cars – innocent pedestrians who are being hurt because of the close proximity of cars and pedestrians on urban streets. I do not intend to be in this group and will continue to ride my bike on sidewalks where safety is a concern. I would do that even if it were illegal. If I was a speedy Lance Armstrong wannabe I’d certainly be in the street.

    What’s the answer? Nothing easy.

    One option is to buy a car with pedestrian detection and automatic braking that works up to 40+MPH. I lease a Chevy Cruise Hatchback specifically because it was represented by the dealer as having that feature when I ordered it. After owning it a week, I tried testing to see if the car would automatically brake – it did not. Seems the sales lady at Village Chevrolet did not quite know her product. Next time I’ll demand a demonstration before signing the lease. I can’t change the city I live in nor the fact that when it was designed well over a century ago, cars were slow moving vehicles of which a family had just one of them.

    We live in a different world today than when this city was designed.

    The neighborhoods we design at our shop separate the pedestrian and vehicular systems – guaranteeing safer places to live and pass through. It would be impossible to redesign existing cities that way unless we could start over such as bulldozing large blighted areas by starting over.
    The neighborhoods we design today can take years or decades to mature. We have written many articles about separating these systems and have no idea how many adopt what we have put in the public. Reducing or eliminating conflicts between cars and pedestrians (bikers also) would have a drastic impact on safety but would go opposite of the social engineering planners.
    By having far fewer intersections and pulling walks away from the corner we can reduce possible impacts and allow pedestrians to be seen. In existing urban higher density cities we can design open meandering park-like streetscapes that separate people and vehicles as far away as possible. Wider walks can handle pedestrians and slow bike traffic that would lead to even wider main trails that cut through the site in common open spaces – far away from vehicular traffic.

    We can (and should) make better choices and upgrade our vehicles to have an extra layer of safety with the latest technology and will surely become standard equipment as the seat belts are today. Even the new Mustang can be ordered with pedestrian detection - with night vision!

    In my opinion, those planners who intentionally place people and vehicles in close proximity to foster change in some effort to stop sprawl should be held responsible when those design decisions take a life or cause great injury. We have to place our priorities not on any particular urban form but the safety of residents who live in the city.

    Rick Harrison is President of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio and Neighborhood Innovations, LLC. He is author of Prefurbia: Reinventing The Suburbs From Disdainable To Sustainable and creator of LandMentor. His websites are rhsdplanning.com and LandMentor.com

    Photo: Via Minneapolismn.gov


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    Karl Marx’s birthday may have been 200 years ago, but his philosophy has come back from the dead. Today, China, an emerging superpower, is celebrating his “genius,” while Marxist ideology is gaining adherents among a whole new generation in the West.

    During the period of rapid social mobility after the Second World War, particularly following the collapse of the Soviet Union, socialist ideas fell into deserved disrepute. In contrast, today’s resurgence reflects both historical ignorance, particularly among the young, and the marked failure of contemporary capitalism to offer a credible scenario for a better future.

    The big western comeback

    Socialism’s comeback extends across a broad spectrum of countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, France as well as in the United States. In France’s election last year the former Trotskyite Jean-Luc Melenchon won the under-24 vote, beating the “youthful” Emmanuel Macron by almost two to one. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of modern capitalism, Labour, under the neo-Marxist Jeremy Corbyn, won over 60 percent of the vote among voters under 40, compared to just 23 percent for the Conservatives.

    Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

    Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

    Photo: RobbyBer [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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    The Wall Street Journal just ran an interesting interactive feature looking at where college grads move after graduation. They looked at 445 schools, and tracked destinations by metro area. They discovered that graduates, particularly from stronger schools, are flocking to major metro areas. The Big East, Ivy League, Pac-12, Big-12, ACC, and Big Ten are all over 70% in sending college grads to major metro areas (but see below for caveats).

    The Ivy League grads are even more concentrated. A quarter of all Ivy League grads live in New York, Washington, or San Francisco. Here’s the WSJ map of cities where more than 2% of Harvard grads go.

    Relative to population, Washington, San Francisco, and Boston punch well above their weight. Washington comes in #2 to NYC in the number of schools sending more than 2% of their grads there.

    Alas, the Journal selected an unfortunate definition of major metro. They define them as the top 55 metro areas, plus the largest metro in the state, plus the largest metro in any state without one in the top 55, excluding Alaska. I don’t know anyone else slicing data this way. A more typical method would be to look at metro areas with more than a million people, of which there are 53. There are some clear midsized and lower tier cities below that on the Journal’s list, so the midsize city advocates are also going to claim this data for themselves. I can understand why they would want to include every state, but this definition of major metro raises questions about analysis based on it. I would like to see a re-slice, or better yet another field in their interactive tool to allow readers to set threshold sizes.

    I’m also not quite sure what the graphs for schools mean. They are labeled as “Percentage of alumni in each metro area.” The top bucket is greater than 50%, yet some schools (e.g., Wisconsin) have multiple cities in that category.

    College vs. College

    I played around with comparing colleges, particularly within the same state. If we look at Michigan and Michigan State for example, we see U of M’s stronger east coast links.

    Looking at Indiana vs. Purdue, we see that Purdue has a bigger national footprint.

    City Draws

    I’ve mentioned before that Indianapolis and Columbus draw migrants overwhelmingly from within their own states. The college draw maps confirm this.

    In fairness, every region in the 1-2 million range I looked at was a regional draw. Here’s Nashville.

    The city data look like follow some kind of gravity model based on size and distance, so many of the maps look vaguely the same with different origin points. Nevertheless, it’s fun to look at. Check it out.

    This piece originally appeared on Urbanophile.

    Aaron M. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and an economic development columnist for Governing magazine. He focuses on ways to help America’s cities thrive in an ever more complex, competitive, globalized, and diverse twenty-first century. During Renn’s 15-year career in management and technology consulting, he was a partner at Accenture and held several technology strategy roles and directed multimillion-dollar global technology implementations. He has contributed to The Guardian, Forbes.com, and numerous other publications. Renn holds a B.S. from Indiana University, where he coauthored an early social-networking platform in 1991.

    Photo: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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    The most recent Census Bureau population estimates have made it clear that migration to the suburbs and away from urban cores has accelerated dramatically since the early years of the Great Recession (see here and here). More detailed national data, from the Current Population Survey (CPS) indicates that moving to the suburbs is pervasive (CPS is a joint program of the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The CPS data is much higher level geographically than similar data Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service migration, providing no state, county or metropolitan area breakdowns. CPS data is national, and divided further into the 4 regions (Northeast, Midwest, South and West) and nine divisions (New England, Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Mountain and Pacific).

    Domestic Migration: Plus 2.3 Million to Suburbs, Minus 2.3 Million from “Principal Cities”

    Between 2016 and 2017, more than 2.3 million (net) US residents moved into what the CPS classifies as. “suburbs.” At the same time, 2.3 million (net) moved away from “principal cities,” with most of their population in those classified as “central cities” (urban core cities) before 2003 (Figure 1). In fact this approach probably under-estimates the extent of migration into suburbs and out of the urban cores of metropolitan areas. This is because many principal cities are, in fact suburbs whose high employment levels, not their overwhelmingly suburban and automobile oriented urban form, determines their classification. For example, suburban principal cities, such as Plano, Texas, Mesa, Arizona, Bellevue, Washington, Sandy Springs, Georgia, and many others are likely to be not losing domestic migrants, while the suburbs with smaller employment bases around them are gaining. Indeed, many non-historical core principal cities did not even exist when the great post-World War II automobile -oriented suburbanization started and were some were primarily rural into the 1960s.

    The move to the suburbs was so pervasive that CPS found gains in 89 of 90 categories. The principal cities, on the other hand lost in 89 of 90 categories (Figure 2), which are organized into total, sex, age, race and Hispanic origin, relationship to householder (formerly called “head of household), educational attainment, marital status, nativity, tenure, poverty status, income, labor force status, major occupation and major industry.

    This article summarizes some of the most important findings from the latest CPS data.

    Millennials: Moving to the Suburbs

    One of the most enduring urban myths has been that millennials are rejecting the suburbs for the inner cities. We have previously shown that the largest percentage of millennial growth is in the suburbs not the urban core. According to CPS, those aged 20 to 29 are net moving in large numbers away from the principal cities, even including some largely suburban cities, (minus 329,000) and to the suburbs (plus 383,000)

    All Other Ages: Moving to the Suburbs

    Millennials are not alone. It is well known that the more family friendly characteristics of the suburbs attract people with young children. This is obvious by the 165,000 children aged 1 to 4 who are moved to the suburbs by their parents, compared to the 222,000 who are moved away from the principal cities (the balance of 57,000 were moved to non-metropolitan areas).

    An even bigger gap is noted among children aged 5 to 9, 292,000 of whom were moved to the suburbs compared to the 334,000 moved away from the principal cities (and the 42,000 moved to non-metropolitan areas). This is consistent with the perception that core cities generally have inferior public schools, inducing parents to move to the suburbs or beyond when it comes time to enroll their children in schools.

    The largest suburban advantage occurs in the 30 to 44 age category, when households are often starting families. Suburbs attract an astounding 683,000 domestic migrants in this category, while the principal cities lose 712,000. The suburban gains continue, but at a lower rate, as people reach 45 to 64 years of age. Suburbs gained 371,000 net domestic migrants, while principal cites lost 347,000.

    The often suggested view that retirees are flocking to the inner cities is countered by the reality that in 2017, 104,000 aged 65 to 74 moved to the suburbs, while 78,000 moved away from the principal cities. The numbers moving are small since older people are increasingly aging in place, which for most is in the suburbs.

    In every age category, then, the suburbs gain net domestic migrants, while the principal cities lose (Figure 3).

    Minorities: Moving to the Suburbs

    Perhaps the most important trends relate to ethnicity and race. The early post-World War II suburban migration might be characterized as “white flight,” but in recent decades minorities have been migrating to the suburbs. It is no surprise that White Non-Hispanics migrated strongly to the suburbs (plus 1,121,000) and away from the principal cities (minus 1,069,000). But Hispanics migrated even more strongly to the suburbs (plus 722,000) and away from the principal cities (minus 748,000). Similarly, African-Americans migrated to the suburbs (303,000) and away from the principal cities (minus 333,000). Asians, though a much smaller share of the population, also chose the suburbs overwhelmingly (plus 103,000) and abandoned the principal cities (minus 62,000).

    Overall, among those who are minority or mixed race, 1.3 million moved to the suburbs, while 1.3 million moved away from the principal cities (Figure 4).

    All Levels of Educational Attainment: Moving to the Suburbs

    Regardless of educational attainment, net domestic migration is positive to the suburbs and negative to the principal cities (Figure 5). In relation to the total population of the educational attainment categories, the largest suburban over principal city gain was among those with bachelor’s degrees, while the smallest was among those without high school educations (Figure 6).

    All Income Levels: Moving to the Suburbs

    People of all income levels are moving to the suburbs. The highest income category shows the most significant movement into the suburbs and away from the principal cities (Figure 7)

    Regardless of Poverty Status: Moving to the Suburbs

    Both people above and below the poverty line exhibited strong net domestic migration to the suburbs and away from the principal cities. Approximately 85 percent of domestic migrants to the suburbs were above the poverty line (Figure 8). Our last review of central city versus suburban poverty showed that urban core poverty rates were double those of the suburbs.

    Native Born and Foreign Born: Moving to the Suburbs

    Both the native born and foreign born population exhibited strong net domestic migration to the suburbs and away from the principal cities (Figure 9).

    Why People Continue to Move to the Suburbs

    CPS summarizes reasons for moving, indicating that 43.0 percent of moves are housing related, 27.9 are family related, and 18.5 percent are employment related. Other reasons account for 10.6 percent. Housing related reasons would include moving to larger houses with yards, especially for their children. Family reasons would include households moving to school districts perceived likely to provide better educations to their children. Finally, employment reasons doubtless includes many households that move to be closer to jobs. All of these reasons favor the suburbs, where the houses are bigger and more spacious, where schools are perceived to be better and where 80 percent of the jobs are located.

    Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), Senior Fellow for Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California). He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

    Photograph: Post 2010 suburbs (St. Louis)


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    The ‘80s futurist John Naisbitt once called manufacturing a “a declining sport,” and to be sure the share of Americans working in factories has fallen far from the 1950 peak of 30% to roughly 8.5% last year.

    Yet, manufacturing’s contributions to the economy are far out of proportion to its shrinking share of employment. In 2013, the manufacturing sector employed 12 million workers, but generated an additional 17.1 million indirect jobs. It has the largest multiplier of any economic sector: each dollar’s worth of manufactured goods generates $1.40 in output from other sectors of the economy. Perhaps most important may be the higher wages it provides for blue-collar workers. According to the latest BLS data, goods-producing industries pays $56,799 a year on average during the latest period in our rankings—much higher than other working-class fields like health care and education (averaging $45,676 annually) and leisure and hospitality ($20,879).

    Read the entire piece on Forbes.com.

    Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

    Dr. Michael Shires primary areas of teaching and research include state, regional and local policy; technology and democracy; higher education policy; strategic, political and organizational issues in public policy; and quantitative analysis. He often serves as a consultant to local and state government on issues related to finance, education policy and governance. Dr. Shires has been quoted as an expert in various publications including USA Today, NewsweekThe EconomistThe Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, and LA Times. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on CNN, KTLA and KCAL to name a few.

    Photo: Charles Atkeison, via Flickr, using CC License.