New Census data reveal that families with children under five led the migration out of major U.S. cities between 2019 and 2021.
According to an analysis by Adam Ozimek and Connor O’Brien for Economic Innovation Group, new data from the Census Bureau show that families led the outmigration from major cities during the pandemic. “Between 2019 and July 2021, large urban counties saw their under-five population fall by 358,000 children, a decline of 5.4 percent.”
The decline makes sense at a time when remote work made it possible for more households to move. “Families, due to their typical size, have larger space requirements, which implies a greater benefit from moving to areas with lower cost of housing and living overall, as well as open spaces.”
The authors note that birth rates are declining overall, and there has been less immigration of families in the last several years. But large urban areas lost under-five population at a rate higher than the rest of the country, with some of the most expensive cities experiencing the highest rates of outmigration. “Between 2020 and 2021, Manhattan saw a whopping 9.5 percent decline in the number of children under five. San Francisco lost 7.6 percent, and has lost over 10 percent since 2019.”
As the authors point out, “The causes and consequences of the exodus of families from large urban areas remain to be investigated.” But the change in under-five population correlates strongly to overall population change, signaling an important shift for urban populations in general and urban families in particular.
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