Suburbs Still Rule!

Though many claim no, they still do, as Joel Kotkin points out in this article from New Geography.

An excerpt.

There is nothing like a trip to Washington, D.C., to show how out of touch America’s ruling classes have become. I was in the nation’s capital to appear on a panel for a Politico event that – well after I agreed to come – was titled “Booming Cities, Busting Suburbs.”

The notion of cities rising from the rotting carcass of suburbia is widely accepted today by much of our corporate, academic and media leadership. This notion has been repeatedly embraced as well by the Obama administration, whose own former secretary of Housing and Urban Development declared several years back that the suburbs were dying, and people were “moving back to the central cities.”

Some on Wall Street also embrace this notion. Having played a pivotal role, along with regulators, in the housing crash of the late 2000s, some financiers have been buying up foreclosed homes for rental income and also back many high-density projects, which are built to house, in large part, those who cannot buy a home, particularly the younger generation.

As the Economist recently pointed out, the suburban house, or a house in less-crowded parts of cities, is an aspiration of upwardly mobile people in the United States and around the world. Surveys, including those conducted by Smart Growth America, demonstrate that the vast majority of Americans prefer single-family houses; most millennials seem to feel that way, too, according to both a Frank Magid Associates survey and a more recent one from Nielsen. As the economy improves, and the people in the millennial generation enter their thirties, it is likely that they – as did other generations – will start buying houses as they start families.

At the very least, suburbia clearly predominates among Americans. Roughly 85 percent of people in our major metropolitan areas, notes demographer Wendell Cox, inhabit suburban neighborhoods, dominated by cars and single-family houses, even though they live within the boundaries of the largest cities. They are definitively not moving en masse into the urban core. In the most recent census, from 2010, the urban core, defined as territory within two miles of city hall, grew by 206,000 people. In contrast, areas 10 or more miles away from an urban center grew by some 15 million people.

Nor has this appreciably changed over time. Since the housing bust, the growth rates of core cities and suburbs are now basically even, but the preponderance of suburban population means that the periphery is adding many more people. From 2010-13, the suburbs added 5.4 million people, while the core cities have added 1.5 million, accounting for less than 30 percent of all major metropolitan population growth.

Retrieved January 6, 2015 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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