Urban Issues

The New Geography of Population Loss and Gain


Dramatic shifts in population growth across the United States in the last decade should surprise no one. Some patterns are continuing trends of earlier decades, but other patterns show substantial change.  I show these changes in three ways, first a conventional choropleth map coloring counties by broad classes from high losses to moderate and high percent gain, second a map in which absolute gains and losses are depicted by proportional symbols, with colors showing the rate of change, and third, a look a counties that experienced either extreme loss and gain.   read more »

Why Outsiders Have Wound Up Running So Much of L.A.


When I was young and my brother was a little older, we would be in bed before dark on mid-summer evenings. (The times were different then.) We would lay in our separate beds, but only an arm’s length apart as shadows lengthened up the far wall of our room, until the dial of the Zenith radio on top of the dresser was the only light left. The Dodgers’ game would be on. Vin Scully was calling the plays.  read more »

The Dispersionist Manifesto


We live in an era of the heady drumbeat of urban triumphalism. In a world that is now, by some measures, predominately urban, observers like historian Peter Hall envision a “coming golden age” of great cities. It is time to look at such claims more closely, replacing celebratory urban legends with careful analysis. Although the percentage of people living in cities is certain to grow, much of this growth will be in smaller cities, suburbs and towns.  read more »

Stories from the 2010 Census: Race and Ethnic Change in Washington State


The city of Seattle is an exceptional place. The 2010 census figures on race, ethnicity and age confirm this reputation. The main story from the census findings is the continued gentrification of Seattle, with displacement of minorities and the less affluent out of the center of the city, especially to south King county and Pierce county. The city core is becoming whiter, while the edges and suburbs, north and east as well as south are becoming far more diverse.  read more »

China: Urbanizing and Moving East: 2010 Census


The National Bureau of Statistics of China has just released the first results of the 2010 census. The new figures portray a radically reduced population growth rate, rapid urbanization and an unprecedented domination of population growth by the East Coast.  read more »

The Public Transport Revolution – Why does it never Arrive?


Since the oil spike in the early seventies, enthusiasts for public transport have predicted that high prices for petrol would trigger a public transport revolution as people finally broke their “addiction” to the motor car and changed their travel mode to buses and trains.

Since then, price bubbles have increased public transport use, and lowered car miles traveled. But these changes have proved to be short-lived. More drive more.  read more »

How China’s Megacities Have Avoided Problems of Other Developing Cities


Urbanist media can’t seem to get enough of the megacity these days. Much of the commentary surrounding this topic is disconcertingly celebratory about these leviathans despite such phenomena as overcrowding, high levels of congestion and sprawling slums.  read more »

Rethinking Urban Dynamics: Lessons from the Census


Much has been made of the vaunted “back to the city” movement by “the young and restless,” young professionals, the creative class, empty nesters and others were voting with their feet in favor of cities over suburbs.  Although there were bright spots, the Census 2010 results show that the trend was very overblown, affecting mostly downtown and near downtown areas, while outlying ones bled population.  One culprit for this discrepancy seems to be that the intra-census estimates supplied by the Census Bureau were inflated – in some cases very inflated.  read more »

Diverging Demographics Leads to Fewer Babies in Singapore


Two interesting statistics were recently released in the same week. Singapore clocked in a population of just over 5 million and a sex ratio of 974 males per 1000 females.  Its neighbour and ally India inched closer to beating China in the population game by notching up 1,210 million people as its head count, along with the more news-worthy sex ratio of 940 females to every 1000 males.  read more »

Washington State's Evolving Demography


Population change in the state of Washington has relevance to the nation and to other states because it tells us something about market preferences of households versus the orientation of planners (e.g., “smart growth”). It tells us much about gentrification and America’s changing racial and ethnic diversity.  read more »