It’s certainly possible to raise children in the middle of a city — some would say preferable. But being childless myself, I’ll defer to others who note that in many crucial ways suburbia makes parenting easier. Schools are obviously an issue, as is the ability to turn kids loose in a back yard or cul-de-sac. It’s important to remember, however, that there are ever fewer households out there with children in them. Catherine Rampell writes:
Back in 1950, 52 percent of households had a child under 18 living at home. But by last year, the percentage of families with a child at home had fallen to 46 percent.
There are a couple explanations for the decline. One is falling fertility rates â€” that is, fewer people are choosing to have children for a complex set of reasons, including more women joining the work force
The other is the aging of America.
To the extent that children cause households to relocate out of urban centers, and I think it’s safe to say that this is very often the case, this should have an urbanizing effect on the American population. What’s really interesting is that this trend could actually make couples with children more likely to stay in cities. More vibrant urban populations will improve the quality of services cities can offer, improving their position relative to suburbs, while slower suburban growth rates could have the opposite effect on suburban budgets and service levels. Couples with children may also find that fewer of their friends are doing the kid thing and moving with them into the burbs. That raises the cost of maintaining a social life in suburbia, and should generally tend to keep more households with children in urban settings.
Of course, the other thing to note is that its the development pattern that’s at issue and not the actual location. In that case, these trends might simply make it easier for suburbs to move toward redevelopment in a denser, more walkable fashion. This trend, too, could reduce the incentive for couples with children in the center city to relocate into the suburbs.