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Brookings Report: “Bright Flight” Transforming Cities and Suburbs

2912708983_5b597d4261.jpgNot as
appealing as they once were. (Photo: Scorpions and
via Flickr)

The suburbs of America are not what
they used to be. And neither are the cities.

This morning, The
Political Environment
pointed us to an article on the Huffington
about "The State
of Metropolitan America
," a new Brookings Institution report on the
shifting demographics of American cities and suburbs (it includes a
nifty interactive map).
Hope Yen writes that the report, which analyzes census data from
2000-2008, reveals a reversal of the long-established trend of "white
flight" to suburbia:

In a reversal, America's suburbs are now more likely to be hometo minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as manyyounger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes...

"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 tobe white flight to the suburbs is turning into 'bright flight' tocities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambianceas an attraction."

"This will not be the future for all cities, but this pattern infront runners like Atlanta, Portland, Ore., Raleigh, N.C., and Austin,Texas, shows that the old urban stereotypes no longer apply," he said.

The rate of poverty is rising five times faster in the suburbs than
in cities. It's a pattern that Brookings sees as a major policy

Calling 2010 the "decade of reckoning," the report urgespolicymakers to shed outdated notions of America's cities and suburbsand work quickly to address the coming problems caused by the dramaticshifts in population.

Among its recommendations: affordable housing and social services for older people in the suburbs; better transit systems to link citiesand suburbs; and a new federal Office of New Americans to serve theeducation and citizenship needs of the rapidly growing immigrantcommunity.

The report merits much more careful analysis and closer reading.
But one thing seems evident: "suburbs" and "cities" are no longer
clearly defined categories with predictable attributes. The vast
metropolitan landscape of America is far more fluid and dynamic than it
has been in decades past. And old-school policy solutions are not going
to be applicable to these new challenges.

More from around the network: On WashCycle,
the saga of Mid-Atlantic AAA and the bike lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue
continues. Human
and Orphan
both ask some tough questions about the future of Seattle's
trolleybuses. And Bike
takes a trip to Charleston -- where she educates a driver on
the rules of the road.

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