Urban Issues

Demography as Destiny: The Vital American Family

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Recent reports of America’s sagging birthrate ‑ the lowest since the 1920s, by some measures ‑ have sparked a much-needed debate about the future of the American family. Unfortunately, this discussion, like so much else in our society, is devolving into yet another political squabble between conservatives and progressives.  read more »

“Livability” vs. Livability: The Pitfalls of Willy Wonka Urbanism

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livability: (livable) fit or suitable to live in or with; “livable conditions”.

“Livability” has been a buzz word in city development for some time, and for good reason, as who doesn’t want livability, outside the zombie cohort? Things get hairy, though, when “livability”—as an economic development strategy—gets unpacked, because questions arise: “Livability” for whom? “Livability” at what cost?  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Bangkok

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Since 2000, the Bangkok region has experienced annual population growth 2.5 times the rate of growth from 1980 to 2000. By 2010, the Bangkok region – which includes the provincial level city of Bangkok and the provinces of Samat Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Nakhon Pathom –  was nearing a population of 15 million (Note 1).  read more »

Is America's Future Progressive?

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Progressives may be a lot less religious  than conservatives, but these days they have reason to think that Providence– or Gaia — has taken on a bluish hue.

From the solid re-election of President Obama, to a host of demographic and social trends, the progressives seem poised to achieve what Ruy Texeira predicted a decade ago:  an “emerging Democratic majority”.

Virtually all the groups that backed Obama — singles, millennials, Hispanics, Asians — are all growing bigger while many of the core Republican groups, such as evangelicals  and intact families, appear in secular decline.  read more »

America the Mostly Beautiful

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In the fall of 2010, as part of a book project, ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald retraced the route John Steinbeck took in 1960 and turned into his classic “Travels With Charley.” Steigerwald drove 11,276 miles in 43 days from Long Island to the top of Maine to Seattle to San Francisco to New Orleans before heading back to his home in Pittsburgh.  In “Dogging Steinbeck,” his new e-book about how he discovered “Charley” was not nonfiction but a highly fictionalized and dishonest account of Steinbeck’s real trip, Steigerwald describes the America he saw.

"Big."

"Empty."

"Rich."

"No change since 1960."  read more »

America’s Baby Boom And Baby Bust Cities

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At this most familial time of the year, as recent events make us hold our children even closer, we might want to consider what kinds of environments are most conducive to having offspring. Alarm bells are beginning to ring in policy circles over the decline of the U.S. birth rate to a record low. If unaddressed, this could pose a vital threat the nation’s economic and demographic vitality over the next few decades.  read more »

A Volunteer Army's Attempt to Fill the New York Hurricane Response Gap

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On November 6, eight days after Hurricane Sandy’s surge waters flooded the streets, I started volunteering in the Rockaways, where I stayed for much of the next three weeks.

On that first day, I joined an ad hoc group of volunteers and took a school bus full of supplies donated by my Brooklyn neighbors out to a church on Beach 67th Street.  read more »

Alleviating World Poverty: A Progress Report

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There has been a substantial reduction in both the extreme poverty rate and the number of people living in extreme poverty since the early 1980s, according to information from the World Bank poverty database. The World Bank maintains data on developing world nations, which include both low income and middle income nations. The analysis below summarizes developing world (low and middle income nations) poverty trends from 1981 to the latest available year, 2008 (Table and Figure 1).  read more »

Aging America: The Cities That Are Graying The Fastest

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Notwithstanding plastic surgery, health improvements and other modern biological enhancements, we are all getting older, and the country is too. Today roughly 18.5% of the U.S. population is over 60, compared to 16.3% a decade ago; by 2020 that percentage is expected to rise to 22.2%, and by 2050 to a full 25%.

Yet the graying of America is not uniform across the country — some places are considerably older than others. The oldest metropolitan areas, according to an analysis of the 2010 census by demographer Wendell Cox, have twice as high a concentration of residents over the age of 60 as the youngest. In these areas, it’s already 2020, and some may get to 2050 aging levels decades early.  read more »

Hong Kong’s Decentralizing Commuting Patterns

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Hong Kong is a city of superlatives. Hong Kong has at least twice the population density of any other urban area in the more developed world, at 67,000 per square mile or 25,900 per square kilometer. The Hong Kong skyline is rated the world's best by both emporis.com (a building database) and diserio.com, which use substantially different criteria.  read more »