Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

The future of the city doesn’t have to be childless

On July 21, Northern News re-posted an article from The Atlantic headlined ‘The future of the city is childless.’ In the article, Derek Thompson wrote that, “In high-density cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., no group is growing faster than rich college-educated whites without children [and in fact] families with children older than 6 are in outright decline in these places.”

Now Brookings Senior Research Analyst Hanna Love and Senior Fellow Jennifer S. Vey write, “The article is spot on when it comes to diagnosing the problems but falls short on what to do next. It somewhat halfheartedly raises the need for more affordable housing to help keep families put, but ultimately reaches a more deterministic conclusion that ‘America’s rich cities specialize in the young, rich, and childless; America’s suburbs specialize in parents. The childless city may be inescapable.’

Love and Vey believe the childless city is not inescapable, “But avoiding such a fate requires a lot more than convincing new millennial parents to stick around post-preschool. Rather, it demands deep, intentional efforts to grow inclusive cities that provide all families, including those at the margins, an opportunity to raise their children in a safe, affordable, and amenity-rich neighborhood.”

Their conclusion? “We must look to innovative, place-based strategies aimed at creating cities where families of all means not only can afford to live, but where they can thrive.”

You can read their list of recommendations here.