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'Bright Flight' and the decaying suburbs

Early signs of white, young, educated Americans returning to or staying in cities could remake the American urban/suburban map and place major strains on suburbs as territories of poverty but without access to centralized social services.

RAND explains,

"The counterpart to the movement of the educated to the cities will be the widening of the poverty ring around those cities, as the less-educated are pushed outward in search of a tenable balance between affordable housing and the time and transportation costs imposed by increasing distance from work. These pressures will produce suburbs in which the relatively poor but full neighborhoods that are home to a growing minority and elderly population are interspersed with the expensive but empty developments left behind by the white, young, and affluent."

A Brookings report on American Demographic Transformation points out that the suburban poor grew by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 — five times the growth rate of the poor in cities.

Implications

RAND writes, "These movements have serious implications for social service provision, as those most in need will become more distant from the centers most able to provide them."

IFTF adds that social services have been concentrated in cities and structured to serve dense areas, but they will need to adapt to more dispersed communities, with less access to public transit, community spaces, and other characteristics of city residences.

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Sources:

RAND, Nov 2010, page 10-11: http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/RAND_Nov2010.pdf#page=10

Yen, Hope, “'Bright flight' Changes the Face of Cities, Suburbs”, Associated Press, 9 May 2010. Accessed 11/2/10 at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37041770/

State of Metropolitan America: On the Front Lines of Demographic Transformation, Brookings institution Metropolitan Policy Program, 2010.

State of Metropolitan America: On the Front Lines of Demographic Transformation, Brookings institution Metropolitan Policy Program, 2010.

State of Metropolitan America: On the Front Lines of Demographic Transformation, Brookings institution Metropolitan Policy Program, 2010.

Lipman, Barbara J., A Heavy Load: The Combined Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working Families, Center for Housing Policy, October 2006.

Yen, Hope, “Poverty in Suburbs Increasing Rapidly During Economic Downturn”, Huffington Post, 10 July 2010. Accessed 11/3/10 at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/17/poverty-suburbs-economy_n_765714.html