Wednesday, December 13

American Suburbia Is Changing

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The popular image of suburbia, in America and much of the English-speaking world, is that of a sort of Wisteria Lane inhabited by desperate housewives; with neat two-storey houses, manicured lawns and sun decks – and overwhelmingly white. Sure, there’s a scattering of African and Asian American families, but these are generally highly qualified individuals with $100,000 salaries. The average blacks, Hispanics, Koreans, Vietnamese et al lived downtown in poorly maintained apartment blocks and ruled the mean streets.

That is gradually changing, however. Many jobs, especially in the banking and service sectors, are located in the heart of cities and, as a consequence, commutes are getting longer and slower. To avoid the daily grind, many younger, educated whites are moving to cities for jobs and shorter commutes. Naturally, they leave behind empty houses and these are increasingly being bought and occupied by minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population – a reversal of population, as it were. Moreover, due to the long economic downturn in the US economy, property prices have come down significantly; making it more affordable for minorities to buy a decent house. This data was compiled based on an analysis of 2000-2008 census data by the Brookings Institution, which covered the 100 largest metropolitan areas, which represent two-thirds of the US population.  The analysis also highlights the fact that whites are getting older and now constitute a major component of that ethnic group; whereas the proportion of young whites is rapidly declining. For blacks, Hispanics and Asians, the demographic is reversed.

At the moment, whites still have a slight edge in suburbia, but perhaps not for long. For the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city. Suburban Asians and Hispanics already had topped 50% in 2000, and blacks joined them by 2008, rising from 43% in those eight years.

 The largest poor population in the country now lives in the suburbs. The vast majority of baby boomers aged 55 to 64 reside there. Many of these will soon be eligible for Medicare, putting a further strain on social services. And they are being joined by substantial shares of minorities who are leaving cities. On the other hand, cities such as Washington, DC, and Atlanta have become magnets for aspiring young adults who are attracted by access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance.

Source: Associated Press



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