From White Flight to "Bright Flight"

The Brookings Institution finds that suburban America has reached a "tipping point" and is now home to more ethnic minorities, seniors, and lower income households.
May 10, 2010, 10am PDT | Michael Dudley
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Brookings' new report on the State of Metropolitan America indicates that major demographic shifts are underway, including racially diverse but aging populations in the suburbs and youthful, educated populations seeking locations in cities with greater access to urban amenities. These "new realities" as they are referred to, point to both cultural and generation gaps and have implications for service provision and electoral politics. According to the Huffington Post

"America's suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes. Suburbs still tilt white. But, for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city. Suburban Asians and Hispanics already had topped 50 percent in 2000, and blacks joined them by 2008, rising from 43 percent in those eight years.

'A new image of urban America is in the making,' said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings who co-wrote the report. 'What used to be white flight to the suburbs is turning into 'bright flight' to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance as an attraction.'"

Among [the report's] recommendations: affordable housing and social services for older people in the suburbs; better transit systems to link cities and suburbs; and a new federal Office of New Americans to serve the education and citizenship needs of the rapidly growing immigrant community."

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