New York is the child's poster for this urban revival. But as the city attracted more wealth, housing prices have risen alongside the skyscrapers, and young families got harder. Since 2011, the number of children born in New York in the five boroughs and 15 per cent in Manhattan has decreased by 9 per cent. (At this rate, Manhattan's infant population will be about half in 30 years.) In that same period, the total number of New York residents who leave the city is more than doubled. There are many reasons that could be declining in New York, but the same fact is inevitable by most of them: It is too difficult to build a family in the city. And the same could be said about every dense and expensive urban district in the country.
In high-density cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., no group is growing faster than rich peaks without college education without children, according to Census analysis by the economist Jed Kolko. In contrast, families with children over the age of 6 are in complete decline. In the main picture, it is clear that a central element is arriving in America's urban revival: births.
Cities were once a place for families of all classes. The “basic custom” in the city of America is the bilingual Sam Bass Warner, which was a “promise to families.” However, today's cities are not for children, or for families who want children. As the sociologists Richard Lloyd and Terry Nichols Clark put it, they are “entertainment machines” for young, wealthy, and mostly non-family. And this development has crucial implications – not just for the future of American cities, but for the future of the US economy and for American politics.
Counties that make up Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia will lose 2 million inland residents from 2010 to 2018. For many years, these primary sources of population growth have not been infant or even college graduates; it is immigrants. But as an archipelago of Ellis Islands, the Manhattan Gate and other city center areas are now gateways into America and the labor force – “temporary portal,” in E. J. McMahon's words, the founder of the Emperor of Public Policy Center. “A Slovak woman comes to Queens, lives in her second cousin's basement, gets her feet on the ground, and gets a better apartment in West Orange, New Jersey,” he said. Or 20-thing goes from North Dakota to Chicago after school, it works with consultancy for a few years, it finds a partner, and translates it to Missoula.
But if large cities are flowing people, they are growing in other ways – specifically, in wealth and in work. The 25 richest metro areas now account for more than half of the US economy, according to Axios' analysis of government data. Rich cities specialize especially in the new high-tech economy: Only five counties account for about half of the country's internet and web portals. The young graduates of the colleges, many without children or of school-age children; that is, workers who are quite attached to family life can pour their lives into their careers.
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