Urban Renewal, a myth? Cities are good for us.

Suburbia Still Rules:

As much as gentrification and urban renewal discussions have filled the internet, the suburbanization of America marches on according to FiveThirtyEight. It’s not that city life isn’t popular and renewal isn’t happening, it’s just that it’s happening on a much smaller scale than people think.

Renewal has been happening for rich, educated people - with no children - in hyper-urban neighborhoods. But for others, FiveThirtyEight explains, “Older adults, families with kids in school, and people of all ages with lower incomes — [they] either can’t afford or don’t want an urban address.”

HumanProgress, an organization reporting data on the human experience, describes the numerous advantages of city life even for these other groups. Not only are urban centers known for their better-paying jobs and cultural and leisure activities, but they are also hubs of superior medical care, health, and life expectancy.

City life also has many environmental advantages. Due to the condensed lifestyle, electricity use and carbon-monoxide emissions per person are significantly less, space is used more efficiently (meaning higher property values), and more surrounding natural environments are preserved.

So, why not cities?

So, with these advantages, why are so many people still choosing the suburbs? Certainly one major factor for many households is education. It is so common for urban areas with poor-performing school to lose families with school-age children that experts have created a measure to describe the severity of this specific population loss. Cities either measure with a family arrival rate (+) or a family flight rate (-), often strongly correlated positively or negatively with how good the schools are in the city. And the more school options a city has available, the more likely a city is to have a positive family arrival rate.

As HumanProgress describes, “Urbanization is good for humanity and for the environment,” so why wouldn’t we create incentives to encourage more people to remain in our cities? Want to learn more about how to keep our communities thriving? Read on.