Out-Migration: An Urban Conundrum

High cost of living and lack of jobs are driving urban populations out of cities, and simply increasing density requirements might not be enough to reverse the trend, argues Jim Russell.

Looking at demographic shifts in Toronto, San Francisco and San Antonio, geographer Jim Russell argues that migratory patterns rather than taxes or density affect innovation in metropolitan areas.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, fewer people from other countries moved to Ontario in the last year and more people moved out. Russell suspects they all fled to Alberta, "where the jobs are."

High rents in urban areas also contribute to out-migration.

Studies by Trulia, a real estate data analyst, show that California is experiencing in-migration from incomes larger than $200,000, while poor and middle-income cohorts drive out-migration to other states.

Where are low and middle income Californians going? Texas.

Ryan Avent's book The Gated City argues that high productivity places like urban cores also have a high cost of living. Density increases would make them more productive and lower the cost of living, optimizing their attractiveness.

However, places like San Antonio, which are expanding outward rather than up or in, are increasing their productivity through in-migration and low home prices, writes Russell who recognizes an almost irreversible trend in the demographic shift driven by home prices.

Full Story: Urban Innovation And Density



Michael Lewyn's picture

The fine line between overstatement and nonsense

Claim: "Toronto is dying."
Fact: Toronto's population grew by 4.5 percent from 2006 to 2011. http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/prof/details/page....

If you can't trust the first sentence, how can you trust the rest of the article?

Alberta, Where the Jobs Are

He also writes "Everyone is heading to Alberta, where the jobs are." A lot of those jobs are based on tar sands (or "oil sands," as they now call them, to make them sound a bit less dirty).

The tar sands are obviously needed to produce gasoline for the places that the writer loves, "which are expanding outward rather than up or in."

This on a website named "Sustainable Cities Collective"!!

If we ever develop a sustainable energy economy, those jobs in Alberta will disappear.

I like puns

I don't think you wanted to use the word conundrum in you title. The issue that you present is not confusing and difficult nor is it a question asked for amusement (typically one with a pun in its answer).

Too many planners use this word word incorrectly. -- I'm sure I sound like a jerk, but the misuse of this word in planning seems to be standard practice.

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