The New York Times: Young College Grads Want to Live in ‘Heart of City’

Dec. 12, 2014

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Young people continue to spurn the suburbs for urban centers, choosing to live instead in the “very heart of cities,” an article from The New York Times finds.

Some cities, such as Pittsburgh and New Orleans, even are attracting young talent while their overall population falls. And about 25 percent more young college graduates live in major metros today than they did in 2000. Experts say this is because young college graduates are increasingly looking for new booming industries, diversity and culture — sometimes not as prevalent in the suburbs.

“How many eventually desert the city centers as they age remains to be seen, but demographers predict that many will stay,” the article says. “They say that could not only bolster city economies, but also lead to decreases in crime and improvements in public schools. If the trends continue, places like Pittsburgh and Buffalo could develop a new reputation — as role models for resurgence.”

“There is a very strong track record of places that attract talent becoming places of long-term success,” Edward Glaeser, an economist at Harvard and author of “Triumph of the City” tells The New York Times. “The most successful economic development policy is to attract and retain smart people and then get out of their way.”

All the 51 biggest metros except Detroit have gained young talent, either from net migration to the cities or from residents graduating from college, according to the report based on data from the federal American Community Survey and written by Joe Cortright, an economist who runs City Observatory and Impresa, a consulting firm on regional economies.

The full City Observatory report is available here.