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Thread: Suburban migration and young families

  1. #1
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    Suburban migration and young families

    Hi, I'm a long time lurker, first time poster. (Please be gentle)

    I was just wondering if anyone could suggest literature about the migration patterns of young middle-class families. Anecdotally, I've known too many people who should be able to support themselves in the city, and who would prefer to live in the city, choose to move to suburbs because they feel cities simply cannot support families. The primary complaints being lack of space, cost of living, safety and quality of schools.

    I'd like to investigate ways cities can retain families by addressing these concerns, but first I have to make a valid argument that it is a problem. Any help or direction would be supremely awesome.

    Tithian

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Howdy

    From Western Arizona

    I'll think about your question
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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    From Western Arizona

    I'll think about your question
    Off-topic:
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  4. #4
    I only have what I have personally observed in this urban county near a major metro (Louisville, KY). Young newlyweds here in this city of ~40,000 tend to purchase homes in the urban core. They rehab the homes (if necessary) or just build equity in them. When Junior comes along, they start scouring the county market for home opportunities and leap at them when they find a home in the school district they want to send Junior to, and they flee the city.

    Our inner-city schools are literally among the worst in the state, while county schools are among the best. I can't blame them in that sense. But, were they to stay and demand better from the school system toward urban schools, it might be possible to break this cycle. They don't seem to feel that's their fight, apparently, so few do stay to rattle cages.

    I wish I could point you in the direction of cold, hard facts, but alas I'm not aware of any studies.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    From the Census website:
    Migration of the Young, Single, and College Educated: 1995 to 2000
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/censr-12.pdf
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    I only have what I have personally observed in this urban county near a major metro (Louisville, KY). Young newlyweds here in this city of ~40,000 tend to purchase homes in the urban core. They rehab the homes (if necessary) or just build equity in them. When Junior comes along, they start scouring the county market for home opportunities and leap at them when they find a home in the school district they want to send Junior to, and they flee the city.

    Our inner-city schools are literally among the worst in the state, while county schools are among the best. I can't blame them in that sense. But, were they to stay and demand better from the school system toward urban schools, it might be possible to break this cycle. They don't seem to feel that's their fight, apparently, so few do stay to rattle cages.

    I wish I could point you in the direction of cold, hard facts, but alas I'm not aware of any studies.
    This is the exact scenario that occurs in the metro Buffalo area. The situation in Buffalo is exaccerbated by the fact that there's a long tradition of private education in the city through Catholic parochial schools. However, as the cost of private education has soared, this has become less of an option, and has fueled flight to the 'burbs.

    The smaller cities that have maintained decent school systems like Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, and even Dunkirk, Olean, and Jamestown, don't suffer the same problems even though they do have far more poor children, children with limited English skills, children with learning disabilities, etc than do the outlying school districts.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    You could study this (sort of) using the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) from the Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). The 2000 Census is pretty old now, but it does have a very large sample size compared to the the more recent ACS. Using microdata from the ACS can expose you to pretty large margins of error, so you have to be careful.

    Check out IPUMS (http://usa.ipums.org/usa/) for a reasonably simple interface to PUMS data from different years. "Simple" is a relative term, however, as using microdata can be difficult. However, your query is not to difficult to construct. You just have to define "young," "middle class," and "family." I assume you mean married-couple families with young children (under the age of 6) who earn a family income somewhere around the median income for their region (say 80% to 140% of area family median income). Then you just have to decide which Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) are "urban" and which are "suburban" and track movement between them using the "PUMA of residence 1 year ago" variable. See, simple!

    Anecdotally, this is something I have noticed when living in older, poorer cities. First kid reaches 5 years old, and out they go to the suburban school system.

  8. #8
    Ditto about going to PUMS. But you have to drill down even more to get the data you want. For one thing, the effect is greater in some cities than others. For some inner cities, you won't find any effects. In still other cities, its only white middle class residents who leave. For others, its only Black and White (not Asians or Hispanics). For others, its everyone.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    Anecdotally, this is something I have noticed when living in older, poorer cities. First kid reaches 5 years old, and out they go to the suburban school system.
    Hmm, you'd think there'd be some demographer out there who has studied this... You may want to check the websites of professional demographers (e.g., William Frey) and follow their links to others. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head, though.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Hmm, you'd think there'd be some demographer out there who has studied this... You may want to check the websites of professional demographers (e.g., William Frey) and follow their links to others. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head, though.
    Good idea! Check the Brookings Institute Website (www.brookings.edu). They may have something on this.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Great question!

    Here is a link (several years old) about why San Francisco has so many gay males. The theory was that the cost of living was so high it excluded families and thus people without dependents were the only ones who could afford to move in. It doesn't answer your question directly but it is quite an interesting read and something I had never thought of before.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Ditto about going to PUMS. But you have to drill down even more to get the data you want. For one thing, the effect is greater in some cities than others. For some inner cities, you won't find any effects. In still other cities, its only white middle class residents who leave. For others, its only Black and White (not Asians or Hispanics). For others, its everyone.
    Absolutely true. Just have to be careful about your sample size. While IPUMS doesn't give you the three-year ACS PUMS data to use, you can combine multiple years together as long as the question/data hasn't changed.

    The only real difference between the one-year and three-year files in ACS PUMS is that Census adjusts income numbers for inflation in the three year files and you have to do it yourself when combining the one year files.

  13. #13
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    "The primary complaints being lack of space, cost of living, safety and quality of schools.

    To my knowledge in India we don't have this kind of suburban migration trend inspite of all our cities spreading in area at rapid speeds. our city centres are always packed...inspite of the similar or slightly different problems (explanation follows) our city centres are always prefered by families.
    we have high, higher densities due to lack of space, cost of living (is not a really big factor in our cities) except for the higher rentals which is compensated by the accessibilty to various amenities at shorter distance (saving on travel costs, time...) , safety is not an issue in any particular area in indian cities it can be the city centre or the suburbs.
    As city centres are usually very crowded mugging or forced thefts are very very rare (our gun / riffle ownership rate is very very less) and finally the big reason in the west "quality of schools" is not at all a issue in india since we don't have the real estate link to schools. Government or private run schools can be run in any designated education zone of the city and any kid living in any part of the city can join any school in the city or outside the city/ state".

    This is one way in which we can retain families by not linking real estate to schools and providing safety in centers.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    You may want to read the book Picture Windows. It provides the basis for the grass outmigration into suburban living, how it was done, and some of the reasons why. If you try to understand how a phenomenon happened, it will better prepare you for addressing the problems.
    Satellite City Enabler

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    Great question. Here in Nashville we are seeing more young people actually stay in the city after graduating from city universities like Vanderbilt, Belmont, David Lipscomb, and Trevecca.


    Ares of town like East Nashville, 12 South, Belmont, Hillsboro Village, 8th Avenue, Berry Hill are full of young artists, painters, musicians, poets, writers, and those involved in the urban renewal and urban services professions.

    Nashville is truly becoming a cosmopolitan city not because of professional sports a.k.a the Titans (0-4) and the Predators (NHL), but young singles, couples, and families now exploring the inner city.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    Migration of the younger cohort

    My graduate thesis was something very similar. Everybody talks about the 'brain drain' and its effects on the economy, but very few people ever look at it beyond bare migration data. My graduate work used a modified gravity model to examine whether the migration of younger people (I believe I defined it 18-29), weighting for factors of similar migration and for amenities that other states offered. Its more complex than that, but thats the nutshell. I did this only for the state of CT and it was a pretty big undertaking. I used a variety of sample populations, from Census and from PUMS, but was also lucky enough to get individual data on UConn grads specifically (alumni association tracking is pretty darn detailed- they want money!) and essentially disproved the hype.

    I realize your hypothesis involves a slightly different demographic, but I think the data could be easily exchanged.

    I have a very comprehensive reading list on migration of younger people that I can share rather readily- interestigly enough the best publications come from the Federal Reserve of all places. The actual methodologies and results consume 145 pages and to the best of my knowledge exists only in the 3 copies the grad school forced me to print. My old advisor keeps trying to talk me into publishing- maybe soon. I love demographics. Good luck!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    The main thing where I am at, is the schools. We absolutely must figure out a solution to our poor (both in money and quality) urban school districts.
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  18. #18
    It seems like there is a general movement across the age span (with lots and lots of exceptions).

    (Middle class and wealthy) children are raised in the suburbs. After college, many young adults move to cities for a couple of years, at least til they marry. Some stay until their eldest child is ready to enter school, when the family moves to the suburbs. After the children move out, many of their parents chose to move back into the city.

    Is this such a bad thing? Should policy makers focus on families, or doing more to capture younger and older adults?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Is this such a bad thing? Should policy makers focus on families, or doing more to capture younger and older adults?
    Yes, it's a bad thing because you're dealing with the large chunck of the city's population that doesn't have the option of moving out to the suburbs when kids come along.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    Changing Demographics

    A few years ago, I attended a workshop in Hartford, CT titled "How to Build a Workforce." The keynote speaker was Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics Magazine and director of demographic forecasts for the New England Economic Partnership.

    Peter had worked closely with the state of New Hampshire and several major sponsors on a project titled "Communities and Consequences" which sought to dispel many of the myths associated with increased development and the fear of younger families and school aged children. The research is pretty interesting, and the process and resulting film is fascinating. Here is an excerpt from the website (credited below):

    Francese goes inside small town N.H. to investigate the causes and effects of our graying state. Young people are leaving the state due to various reasons – lack of jobs, lack of affordable housing, lack of adequate schooling (as evidenced in a Moultonborough middle school debate) and a general impression that they are not welcome.

    Who knew our gray haired brethren could be such bullies? As a member of the target young professional demographic who is childless by choice, my knee-jerk reaction was to be fine with the exodus. Who wants to be a giver if you’re not an equal receiver of government services? So what if we have an older population? Don’t retired folks deserve some peace and quiet without spending so much on schools they don’t use?

    But “Communities and Consequences” changed my mind and made me nervous. Just one concern: Who IS going to respond to the 911 calls of the aging population when young professionals can’t afford to live in your town?



    You can go here for more information:

    http://www.communitiesandconsequences.org/

    The film is truly great. If nothing else, check out the trailer available at the website.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    Yes, it's a bad thing because you're dealing with the large chunck of the city's population that doesn't have the option of moving out to the suburbs when kids come along.
    This largely depends on the city that you're talking about. For example, it's pretty common in San Francisco and Seattle (and I would assume Boston as well, though GottaSpeakup can certainly correct me if I'm wrong, as well as several other cities) for folks to make the comment that losing families is 100% bad and that a way to fix that situation must be discovered.

    However, those cities are also bursting at the seems with relatively high income and highly educated singles and DINKs. From most perspectives, that's the dream demographic - they contribute a lot in taxes, yet consume relatively little in services - most other cities are bending over backwards trying to find ways to grab more of these folks. It's a very hard tightrope to walk, because it's very hard to justify a policy that would make a city more attractive to families at the expense of educated and wealthy singles and DINKs (even though I personally think that is often necessary).
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I'm fairly certain I have something in my book collection about this, however all my books are boxed up from my recent relocation back to Hawaii. This is a great excuse to start digging through my old literature!

    I will see if I can find the book I am thinking of and get back to you in a few days. If you don't hear from me, feel free to send me a reminder .

  23. #23
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Not migration pers se, but for the overriding "theory"

    See Fischel's "homevoter hypothesis" based on the Tiebout model - essentially, young families are shopping for a package of goods - namely "schools" (see Briggs, "The Geography of Opportunity"), but also house size, yard size, etc. (i.e. "drive until you qualify"). This falls under "trade-offs" I suppose.
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    Yes, it's a bad thing because you're dealing with the large chunck of the city's population that doesn't have the option of moving out to the suburbs when kids come along.
    This is a very important, but different problem. There needs to be first class schools in cities so that whatever reason families move, its not because of schools. But many of the reasons cited for families leaving are beyond school problems. Cities can not create large lots in their midst, at least not Boston, San Francisco and other built out cities that do not have abandoned areas.

    Here is another way to phrase my question: why do suburbs lose young unmarried people? other couples without children? What can be done to make suburban living more amenable to those types of people.

    As CJC says, these people pay lots of taxes and dont put a big drain on services.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    This is a very important, but different problem. There needs to be first class schools in cities so that whatever reason families move, its not because of schools. But many of the reasons cited for families leaving are beyond school problems. Cities can not create large lots in their midst, at least not Boston, San Francisco and other built out cities that do not have abandoned areas.

    Here is another way to phrase my question: why do suburbs lose young unmarried people? other couples without children? What can be done to make suburban living more amenable to those types of people.

    As CJC says, these people pay lots of taxes and dont put a big drain on services.
    I have to question just how large the childless population "fleeing" the suburbs for the cities actually is, especially in the smaller and medium-sized metro areas where commuting isn't onerous and the "attractions" of the urban core are limited. Let's face it, if your kids are gone and you really want "urban living", you probably aren't going to sell your 3 BR, 2 bath ranch in Millcreek Township, PA to move into an apartment in downtown Erie, PA, because you aren't going to find all that much there. More than likely you're going to move to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (where you probably couldn't afford to actually live in the city center anyway).

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