Where Kids Live Now in the U.S. by Richard Florida

Where Kids Live Now in the U.S. by Richard Florida

The United States is home to 74 million children. And while it’s true that the share of the U.S. population 18 years and under has declined slightly—from 25.6 percent in 2000 to 23.3 percent in 2013—there are still more kids growing up in the country than ever before. But where do they actually live?

One oft-told story is that kids are far less likely to live in big, dense, knowledge-based metros where young people (and potential parents) put off marriage and child-bearing in favor of getting more education and climbing the job ladder. Another is that children are less likely to be in locations where it costs more to buy a home. Those on the social conservative right also like to argue that families are more likely to have more children in places with traditional “family values” than they are in more “libertine” cities and major metro areas.

Is any of that actually true? With the help of my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander, we crunched and analyzed data from the 2011 American Community Survey on the share of the population comprised of children across all 350-plus U.S. metros. I decided to focus on the metro level only and not wade into the question of how kids are distributed between cities and suburbs. I have long talked of the barbell demography of America’s re-urbanizing cities, which are often made up of young singles and marrieds who have yet to have children and older empty-nesters whose kids are gone. We already know that families with kids typically relocate to the suburbs where they can get more space and access to better public schools. (Though whether that pattern will change is up for debate.) The more interesting questions are which metros—and especially which kinds of metros—have larger or smaller shares of kids.

CityLab Richard Florida Ritchie, MPI

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