Update: U.S. News puts a different spin on the Brookings report and highlights the change in the the Under 45 population. Rust Belt suburbs are the clear loser. Might this accelerate urbanization in this megaregion? It doesn't bode well for political consolidation and regional cooperation.
Boomtowns are aging much faster than Rust Belt bust-towns. The Washington Post takes a good look at the latest from Brookings demographer William Fry, “The Uneven Aging and ‘Younging’ of America.” The sidebar graphic makes my first point:
The likes of Pittsburgh are among the slowest aging communities in the United States. In fact, those bottom-5 metros are all getting younger. The Post article teases out the shifting politics resulting from such demographic trends, particularly in rapidly graying suburbia:
“When people think of suburban voters, it’s going to be different than it was years ago,” Frey said. “They used to be people worried about schools and kids. Now they’re more concerned about their own well-being.”
My take is that this will make the suburbs less attractive to families. I'd extend that to the fastest aging boomtown metros. Rust Belt cities as a hot destination make a lot of sense for younger cohorts.
To put it another way, legacy costs are shifting from traditional brownfields (urban centers) to greenfields (suburbs). How will the outlying communities pay for the senior infrastructure? Public transportation will be a nightmare. Services are diffuse. The geographically isolated tend to be poor.
Suburbs will have to shrink with ballooning dependency ratios (the other way). Schools will close. The fiscal crisis will extend decades into the future with high energy prices serving to exacerbate the problem.
Metros drunk on decades of in-migration and sprawl will be the worst hit. More from The Post:
“AARP research shows that most communities are behind in planning for their aging populations, but those that are adapting have come up with common-sense solutions to improve home design and make transportation easier,” said Nancy LeaMond, the AARP vice president, in a written statement.
What a mess. Given all the constraints on federal, state, and municipal budgets, I don't see how we will pay for the adaptations. Stay ahead of the curve. Move to Pittsburgh.