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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.
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 an era in which many businesses that pay high wages have been shedding jobs, the wide-ranging employment category of professional, scientific and technical services has been a relatively stellar performer, expanding some 15% since 2001. In contrast, employment dropped over 20% in such lucrative fields as manufacturing and information-related businesses (media, telecom providers, software publishing) over the same period, and finance and wholesale trade experienced small declines.
Technology is reshaping our economic geography, but there’s disagreement as to how. Much of the media and pundits like Richard Florida assert that the tech revolution is bound to be centralized in the dense, often “hip” places where “smart” people cluster.
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.
Notwithstanding plastic surgery, health improvements and other modern biological enhancements, we are all getting older, and the country is too. Today roughly 18.5% of the U.S. population is over 60, compared to 16.3% a decade ago; by 2020 that percentage is expected to rise to 22.2%, and by 2050 to a full 25%.
Yet the graying of America is not uniform across the country — some places are considerably older than others. The oldest metropolitan areas, according to an analysis of the 2010 census by demographer Wendell Cox, have twice as high a concentration of residents over the age of 60 as the youngest. In these areas, it’s already 2020, and some may get to 2050 aging levels decades early.
The red states may have lost the presidential election, but they are winning new residents, largely at the expense of their politically successful blue counterparts. For all the talk of how the Great Recession has driven people — particularly the “footloose young” — toward dense urban centers, Census data reveal that Americans are still drawn to the same sprawling Sun Belt regions as before.
When Americans think of oil executives, they tend to conjure up the image of J. R. Ewing: slick smile, sharp suits, cowboy boots, and a 10-gallon hat packed with bluster, vanity, and greed. According to Gallup, no industry is more widely reviled than oil and gas—not even banking, real estate, or heath care. The poll found that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of its activities. Only the federal government fared worse.
This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin, Praxis Strategy Group, and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.
For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.
After a decade of increasingly celebrated gentrification, many believe Brooklyn — the native borough of both my parents — finally has risen from the shadows that were cast when it became part of New York City over a century ago.
Within the handful of swing states, the presidential election will come down to a handful of swing counties: namely the suburban voters who reside in about the last contested places in American politics.
Even in solid-red states, big cities tilt overwhelmingly toward President Obama and the Democrats, and even in solid-blue ones, the countryside tends to be solidly Republican.