The Suburbs are So Dead


Jim Kunstler would say it is because of Peak Oil, that suburban homeowners won't be able to afford to heat or cool their houses or commute to work; We have said that it is because of global warming, that low density construction uses too many resources and creates too much CO2 when nobody can walk anywhere; Perhaps demographer David Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo, 10 years ago was right all along, that demographics are everything and just watch those baby boomers. The suburbs are going to die of old age.

According to the New York Times, the suburbs are no longer full of the sounds of playing children. "Suburbs, which previously were considered youthful and family-friendly parts of America, will, as more seniors age in place, become a fast-graying part of our national landscape," said William H. Frey, a Brookings demographer. Dr. Frey said the extraordinary growth in the number of Americans from 55 to 64 will fuel a "senior tsunami" beginning in less than four years when the first baby boomers turn 65.

Now the young hipsters want to live in cities, and the wealthy boomers want to live in condos. The suburbs are growing poorer and older. Of course when they get older and less mobile, there will be no transit out there, they cannot walk anywhere, the social services are not as well developed as in more dense areas, and there is no tax base to support them. Most of their income from pensions will go to property taxes, which will not be nearly enough to support the services needed.

Says the Times: The new demographics of aging present unique opportunities and challenges, both for the elderly and for their neighbors. While New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago, among others, may appeal to aging suburbanites, smaller cities and metropolitan areas are also marketing themselves as magnets for urban professionals ages 65 to 74, or "suppies," many of whom are still working and who tend to be healthier and wealthier than other older people.

Dr. Frey said the increasing share of the elderly in the suburbs will place new demands on housing, health care, transportation and social services. ::New York Times

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