In an analysis done of census data pre-housing boom (1990s), The Brookings Institute in their recent report Where Workers Go, Do Jobs Follow? found that:

  • Roughly 65 percent of all residents and nearly 60 percent of all jobs are now located in the suburbs, with over a third of each in the higher-income suburbs.
  • Population grew strongly during the 1990s in the lower-income suburbs, while job growth was particularly strong in the higher-income suburbs

And then comes the 2000s
The New Urbanism movement, bolstered by the housing boom’s creation of new luxury housing stock and redevelopment of underutilized commercial districts, has seemingly reversed the long term migration to the suburbs. The decline in serious crime levels in urban markets have also played a major role in boosting demand (and may in turn further influenced the decline)

Will the current economic downturn undo urban housing trends in many US cities?

Based on the St. Lousi Fed research paper City Business Cycles and Crime by Thomas A. Garrett and Lesli S. Ott , perhaps not:

We find weak evidence across U.S. cities that changes in economic conditions significantly influence short-run changes in crime. This suggests that short- run changes in economic conditions do not induce individuals to commit crimes…we do find that short-run changes in economic conditions influence property [versus violent] crimes in a greater number of cities.

I have always seen crime levels and other quality of life issues as long term trends, like steering a super tanker (admittedly, a tired analogy).

And while we are on the subject of research papers…

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Urban Housing Trends Aren’t A Crime”

  1. Jonathan, forget the crime and have a beer:)

    New urbanism will thrive because of high gas prices and the quality of amenities found in major cities. Rather than fighting traffic for an hour or more and burning gas and wasting time and money, think about short commutes. Fine dining, shopping, the arts, etc., all within walking distance.

    I think one of the outcomes of the current housing mess and high gas prices will be a return to city living. Look for the nearest infill neighborhood coming soon.

  2. I think we’re just seeing the pendulum swinging back and forth. I chose to live outside of Baltimore because of the crime in Baltimore. My wife told me that she’d be uncomfortable in Baltimore if I wasn’t home (I’d be uncomfortable in Baltimore even with me home!). Crime is a big enough issue, at least for us, to push us into the suburbs. Not all cities are created equally. 🙂

  3. Edd C Gillespie says:

    It appears the answer to the question, “Where Workers Go, Do Jobs Follow?” is no. The evidence is where the middle class is are also jobs. But give outsourcing a few more years and there will be no question remaining as to where the jobs went.