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Grim Demographics for Outer Suburbs in the East and Midwest

While migration bolsters the populations of outer suburbs in the West and the South, their counterparts in the East and the Midwest show signs of decline. That includes well-off areas.
March 30, 2018, 10am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Since the Great Recession, Robert Gebeloff writes, previously-booming outer suburbs in places like Hunterdon County, New Jersey show signs of looming population decline. "Some American communities that until recently were considered demographic boom towns are now caught up in a downward demographic mix: young people having fewer children, the boomer generation getting older. And migration patterns, stalled by the recession, are resuming, but only in certain parts of the country."

The issue can be traced to falling birthrates and, often, more deaths. "Through 2016, about one in four outer-ring suburbs were experiencing more deaths than births, including 18 of 30 such counties in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania [...]" Gebeloff notes that although that pattern is often associated with impoverished counties, the trend extends to well-off suburbs as well.

Outer suburbia may be a much-maligned form of urban development. But decline anywhere poses its challenges. "The nation's sprawling growth pattern has taken its share of criticism; it's associated with long-distance commuting, environmental degradation and urban decay. But population stagnation in places that had been growing will most likely bring its own sets of problems, including pressures on real estate values and eventual shrinking of political representation."

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Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 in The New York Times
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