The idealized vision of suburbia as a homogenous landscape of prosperity built around the nuclear family took another hit over the past decade, as suburbs became home to more poor people, immigrants, minorities, senior citizens and households with no children, according to a Brookings Institution report to be released Sunday.
Although the suburbs remain a destination of choice for families with children, nuclear families are outnumbered. Nationwide, 21 percent of American families are composed of married couples with children. Their ranks declined in more than half of the suburbs...
Demographers at Brookings say suburbs are developing many of the same problems and attractions that are more typically associated with cities. And cities, in turn, have been drawing more residents who are young and affluent, so the traditional income gap between wealthier suburbs and more diverse cities narrowed slightly.
"The decade brought many cities and suburbs still closer together along a series of social, demographic and economic dimensions," said the report, titled "State of Metropolitan America." ...
The report outlines a decade in which several demographic milestones were passed as the nation's population topped 300 million midway through. About two-thirds of Americans live in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, virtually all regions with populations of 500,000 or more.
"We think we're a small-town nation," Berube said. "But small towns exist because they're connected to something bigger, which allows residents to make a living."
The decade saw increasing diversity in the suburbs, even though they remain two-thirds white overall. For the first time, more African Americans live in suburbs than in core cities, a benchmark that Hispanics and Asians had passed by 2000. ... Also for the first time, more than half of all immigrants live in the suburbs. ...
Suburbs already are facing a rising tide of poor residents. Over the past decade, the number of suburban poor increased 25 percent, almost five times faster than the urban poor growth rate. For the first time, suburban poor outnumbered urban poor by 1.5 million. However, suburbanites were far more likely to have incomes just below the poverty line, while residents of cities were more likely to be in deep poverty, with incomes less than half of the poverty level.
In what the report calls a cultural generation gap, the nation's young are racially and ethnically diverse, while the older population is more white.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Diversity growing in the suburbs
A new Brookings Institution report highlights the changes that are taking place in America's suburbs: