Young people in their 20s may want a dense, New York-style city, but that doesn’t mean they’ll still want it in their 30s. Over at New Geography, Joel Kotkin has the numbers on which cities tend to attract 30-something Americans starting families, and, amazingly, New York and Los Angeles aren’t doing well:
Virtually all the metro areas where there has been the strongest growth in families from 2000 to 2013 are highly suburban, highly affordable and located in the South and Intermountain West. If they also have a strong economy, like top-ranked Raleigh, N.C., they are even more attractive. In concert with strong net in-migration, the number of children in the Raleigh metro area between the ages of 5 and 14 grew by 63,600 from 2000-13, or 55.7%. That’s roughly 10 times the national growth rate of 0.5% for this demographic. […]The largest declines in the 5 to 14 cohort since 2000 have almost all occurred in the large coastal metropolitan centers, led by Los Angeles, 46th out of the 52 cities on our list, where the child population has dropped by 303,000, or 15.3%, since 2000. In the New York metro area (40th), the number of 5- to 14-year-olds fell by 238,000.
This phenomenon is traceable in part to specific policy decisions taken by city leaders. Certain kinds of zoning policies raise the cost of housing dramatically in blue cities, but that’s not all. As Kotkin has pointed out elsewhere, family-friendly cities have found all sorts of ways to invest in amenities and structures that attract families, from creating parks and open spaces to pursuing better schools through smarter education policy.Cities that attract families will have an edge as millennials get older and start the families they say they want. Maybe, just maybe, local governments will start thinking about which policies make their cities better places to raise kids.