Demographic Change and Future Urban Development
The United States faces dramatic demographic shifts in the coming years. Non-Hispanic whites will lose their majority by 2043, baby boomers are rapidly aging, immigration reform is sorely needed, and everyone has an opinion on millennials. In this heady context, Dowell Myers and Hyojung Lee offer a cautious overview of demographic trends and their consequences for housing and urban development between 1990 and 2030. A central question of their analysis is the strength and longevity of the effects of the 2008 recession, particularly on the millennial generation. Was this recession a game changer, permanently shaping the economic lives of millennials? Or has it merely slowed some traditional trends, such as younger people leaving the city for more family-oriented suburbs, most of which will eventually return to previous patterns? And how long will these short-term shifts last as recovery continues to flag?
Myers and Lee outline plausible scenarios for future trends in metropolitan growth rates and generational shifts in home ownership. Much depends on the ability of generational cohorts, particularly the millennials, to achieve home ownership rates comparable to those of previous generations. Myers and Lee project a series of scenarios, estimating the effect of the Great Recession on future national home ownership rates. They estimate that the impact of the years 2008–2012 on home ownership is likely to subdue the growth of suburban home ownership and continue to strengthen the revitalization of urban areas in the United States.
This paper was presented at the Lincoln Institute’s annual Land Policy Conference in 2014 and is Chapter 2 of the book Land and the City.