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In the wake of the post-2008 housing bust, suburbia has become associated with many of the same ills long associated with cities, as our urban-based press corps and cultural elite cheerfully sneer at each new sign of decline.
A year or two ago, pundits and planners, in California and elsewhere, proclaimed – and largely celebrated – the demise of suburbia. They were particularly heartened by a report, financed by portions of the real estate industry, that predicted the market for single-family homes in the state was hopelessly flooded, with a supply overhang of up to 25 years.
Perhaps no idea is more widely accepted among urban core theorists than the notion that higher population densities lead to more productivity and sustainable economic growth. Yet upon examination, there are less than compelling moorings for the beliefs of what Pittsburgh blogger Jim Russell calls “the density cult,” whose adherents include many planners and urban land speculators.
The modern megacity may have been largely an invention of the West, but it’s increasingly to be found largely in the East. The seven largest megacities (defined as areas of continuous urban development of over 10 million people) are located in Asia, based on a roundup of the latest population data released last month by Wendell Cox’s Demographia.
Marissa Mayer’s pronunciamento banning home-based work at Yahoo reflects a great dilemma facing companies and our country over the coming decade. Forget for a minute the amazing hubris of a rich, glamorous CEO, with a nursery specially built next to her office, ordering less well-compensated parents to trudge back to the office, leaving their less important offspring in daycare or in the hands of nannies.
Among the most pervasive, and arguably pernicious, notions of the past decade has been that the “creative class” of the skilled, educated and hip would remake and revive American cities. The idea, packaged and peddled by consultant Richard Florida, had been that unlike spending public money to court Wall Street fat cats, corporate executives or other traditional elites, paying to appeal to the creative would truly trickle down, generating a widespread urban revival.
In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, some political commentators have written political obituaries of the "red" or conservative-leaning states, envisioning a brave new world dominated by fashionably blue bastions in the Northeast or California. But political fortunes are notoriously fickle, while economic trends tend to be more enduring.
These trends point to a U.S. economic future dominated by four growth corridors that are generally less dense, more affordable, and markedly more conservative and pro-business: the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, the Third Coast (spanning the Gulf states from Texas to Florida), and the Southeastern industrial belt.
In recent years, the debate over immigration has been portrayed in large part as a battle between immigrant-tolerant blue states and regions and their less welcoming red counterparts. Yet increasingly, it appears that red states in the interior and the south may actually have more to gain from liberalized immigration than many blue state bastions.
Indeed an analysis of foreign born population by demographer Wendell Cox reveals that the fastest growth in the numbers of newcomers are actually in cities (metropolitan areas) not usually seen as immigrant hubs.
For all of human history, family has underpinned the rise, and decline, of nations. This may also prove true for the United States, as demographics, economics and policies divide the nation into what may be seen as child-friendly and increasingly child-free zones.
Where California falls in this division also may tell us much about our state's future. Indeed, in his semi-triumphalist budget statement, our 74-year-old governor acknowledged California's rapid aging as one of the more looming threats for our still fiscally challenged state.
The common media view of the South is as a regressive region, full of overweight, prejudiced, exploited and undereducated numbskulls . This meme was perfectly captured in this Bill Maher-commissioned video from Alexandra Pelosi, the New York-based daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
It's been nearly 20 years since California Gov. Pete Wilson won re-election by tying his campaign to the anti-illegal immigrant measure Proposition 187. Ads featuring grainy images of presumably young Hispanic males crossing the border energized a largely white electorate terrified of being overwhelmed, financially and socially, by the incoming foreign hordes.
The demographic dilemma facing California today might be better illustrated by pictures of aging hippies with gray ponytails, of legions in wheel-chairs, seeking out the best rest home and unemployed young people on the street corner, watching while middle-age families drive away, seeking to fulfill mundane middle-class dreams in other states.
Recent reports of America’s sagging birthrate ‑ the lowest since the 1920s, by some measures ‑ have sparked a much-needed debate about the future of the American family. Unfortunately, this discussion, like so much else in our society, is devolving into yet another political squabble between conservatives and progressives.
Progressives may be a lot less religious than conservatives, but these days they have reason to think that Providence– or Gaia — has taken on a bluish hue.
From the solid re-election of President Obama, to a host of demographic and social trends, the progressives seem poised to achieve what Ruy Texeira predicted a decade ago: an “emerging Democratic majority”.
Virtually all the groups that backed Obama — singles, millennials, Hispanics, Asians — are all growing bigger while many of the core Republican groups, such as evangelicals and intact families, appear in secular decline.
At this most familial time of the year, as recent events make us hold our children even closer, we might want to consider what kinds of environments are most conducive to having offspring. Alarm bells are beginning to ring in policy circles over the decline of the U.S. birth rate to a record low. If unaddressed, this could pose a vital threat the nation’s economic and demographic vitality over the next few decades.