November 21, 2015
American Population Not Really Shifting To Cities?

This is counter-narrative: More millennials are moving out of cities than into them. That's true for a large assortment of demographic slices in America:

Indeed, for all the talk of the rebirth of American cities, the draw of the suburbs remains powerful. Across all ages, races, incomes and education groups, more Americans are still moving out of cities than in. (Urban populations are still growing, but because of births and immigration, not internal migration.)

So why does the press paint a misleading picture? Educated people are shifting more toward cities (partially contradicting the first article I think). My guess is the educated are driving up housing costs while, at the same time, jobs for less educated are getting automated out of existence. So the poor are moving out to cheaper places to live. This is probably much more the case for the most educated than the least educated cities. The cities with high concentrations of brain power, especially workers with STEM skills, have industries that pay better and their employees can outbid the lower classes for housing (think San Francisco).

Leonid Bershidsky argues that a leisure deficit is killing suburbia as people move closer to their jobs to save time. He says the most skilled people are working longer hours and therefore have less time to commute. So they live closer to work. If the rise in incomes for the highest performers is disproportionate to the number of hours worked then the lower classes are getting pushed out of cities by the rising value of elite cognitive workers.

Well, lets jump ahead 10-15 years and assume fully autonomous vehicles are widely available and working well. What will that do to willingness to commute longer distances? Will knowledge workers let the car do the driving and work on their software, spreadsheets, presentations, and sales calls while they commute to outer suburbs? Or will they still live as close to work as possible, at least on week nights, and only go to second homes further away on weekends?

Also, will video conferencing and virtual reality ever reduce how often people work from the office? So far it is amazing how much people stay anchored to physical offices. Is that ever going to change?

Another question: will automation reduce the size of the optimal city? Suppose cities no longer need humans to work as tax drivers, bus drivers, trash collectors, cooks, and assorted other blue collar workers. Will the knowledge workers in each industry organize themselves around smaller cities surrounded by rings of suburbs?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 November 21 05:15 PM 


Comments
bob sykes said at November 22, 2015 5:48 AM:

In any organization, face-to-face communication is critically important. Communication is more than text or words, it includes body language and implied and inferred emotion. Emotions are important to group cohesion, cooperation and effectiveness. That is the prroduct of 2 million years of hunter-gatherer existence in small groups. Face-to-face is also quicker than any kind of electronic communication. So, people working in offices will always be the norm, supplemented unsatisfactorily by various kinds of web conferencing, tweets, email and phone conversations. That also means that the elites will congregate in cities.

Behavior, like every aspect of an organism, has a significant genetic component. Things one might think are purely cultural are not. We cannot leave behind our evolutionary past.

pointsnfigures said at November 23, 2015 10:35 AM:

http://pointsandfigures.com/2015/11/19/the-future-of-work/ I blogged about the physical space here, and why it's important. I think the other thing that is left unsaid in the post is education. Millennials cannot afford to send their kids to a pricey private school to educate them-unless they are trustafarians or have a high paying job ($500k per year or more). If they want to stay in the city, they will embrace technological innovation to provide a better education for their children than the public school system. Brilliant.org is one place they can do that.

LindaF said at November 23, 2015 11:14 AM:

What is not mentioned here is the extent to which social/income mobility will decrease as a result of the distancing of the elite from the average person.

The elites already insulate themselves from the "masses" - income-separated housing, separate schools (and, if forced to attend the same schools, manage to separate themselves via "Gifted & Talented", Major Work, or IB programs), workplaces that exist separate from the factories, hiring practices that ensure that anyone management comes into contact with will also have a prestigious college background.

Over time, with the lessened need to interact (city vs. non-city), I would expect increasing cultural divergence.

JohnMc said at November 23, 2015 12:31 PM:

Another question: will automation reduce the size of the optimal city? Suppose cities no longer need humans to work as tax drivers, bus drivers, trash collectors, cooks, and assorted other blue collar workers. Will the knowledge workers in each industry organize themselves around smaller cities surrounded by rings of suburbs?

If that can be accomplished why not go the whole monty and do the 'home above the shop' like our great grand parents did and eliminate the commute to just a step down the stairs?

gejala stroke said at August 29, 2016 8:56 PM:

gejala stroke ringan dan cara menanganinya secara alami harus diperhatikan selalu secara serius , karena saat ini kasus penyakit stroke banyak terjadi dikalangan masyarakat dari mulai stroke ringan hingga stroke berat.
Meski yang dialami masih gejala stroke ringan tapi penanganannya harus secara tepat karena bisa berakibat fatal jika tidak diatasi dengan obat stroke yang ampuh. Sebelum kita membahas lebih lanjut mengenai pengobatan stroke, maka kita harus mempelajari dulu tentang apa itu penyakit stroke, penyebab penyakit stroke, gejala stroke,
serta bahaya apa yang bisa muncul? Setelah itu baru kita bisa memilih obat stroke yang tepat yang akan kita gunakan.

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