America’s Demographic Future

Appearing in:

The Cato Journal

Perhaps nothing has more defined America and its promise than immigration. In the future, immigration and the consequent development of what Walt Whitman (1855: iv) called “a race of races” will remain one of the country’s greatest assets in the decades to come.

At a time when anti-immigrant fervor has been building, a number of states—including Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama—have enacted draconian laws aimed at apprehending undocumented immigrants. Those laws are widely seen even among legal immigrants and long-term residents as hostile to immigrants. Indeed, newcomers are already leaving those states. Read more

Heavy Metal Is Back: The Best Cities For Industrial Manufacturing

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For a generation American manufacturing has been widely seen as a “declining sport.” Yet its demise has been largely overplayed. Despite the many jobs this sector has lost in the past generation, manufacturing remains remarkably resilient, with a global market share similar to that of the 1970s.

More recently, the U.S. industrial base has been on a powerful upswing, with employment climbing steadily since 2009. Boosted by productivity gains and higher costs in competitors, including China, U.S. manufacturing exports have grown at their fastest rate since the late 1980s. In 2011 American manufacturing continued to expand, while Germany, Japan and Brazil all weakened in this vital sector.

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Is Suburbia Doomed? Not So Fast.

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

This past weekend the New York Times devoted two big op-eds to the decline of the suburb. In one, new urban theorist Chris Leinberger said that Americans were increasingly abandoning “fringe suburbs” for dense, transit-oriented urban areas. In the other, UC Berkeley professor Louise Mozingo called for the demise of the “suburban office building” and the adoption of policies that will drive jobs away from the fringe and back to the urban core.

Perhaps no theology more grips the nation’s mainstream media — and the planning community — more than the notion of inevitable suburban decline. The Obama administration’s housing secretary, Shaun Donavan, recently claimed, “We’ve reached the limits of suburban development: People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities.”

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Women Ascendent: Where Females Are Rising The Fastest

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

You can find the future of the world’s women not in Scandinavia or the U.S., but among the entrepreneurs who line the streets of Mumbai, Manila and Sao Paulo. Selling everything from mangoes to home-made blouses, these women, usually considered the very bottom of their home country’s employment barrel, represent the cutting-edge of progress for women in the 21st century.

This marks a departure from past decades, when the advancement of women was visible almost solely in the wealthiest of countries. Surveys of female achievements have consistently singled out just a sliver of the globe, but increasingly, women are making the greatest strides elsewhere — in the rapidly growing developing world.

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Dense Urban Thinking Down Under

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Ku-ring-gai is a piece of suburban paradise in the inner rings of Sydney. A district of modest homes and quaint small-scale shopping districts, it sits near one of the last remaining stretches of blue-gum forest inside Australia’s largest city. You can still catch the occasional cockatoo luxuriating on a branch.

First built around 1900, the neighborhood of 106,000 boasts all the charms of the classic “garden city,” balancing nature with modestly scaled development. Yet today the Ku-ring-gai community — including the remaining flora and fauna — is threatened with extinction by planners and developers seeking to pack the district with non-descript apartment tracks and ten-story commercial structures.

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The Demise Of The Luxury City

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The Republican victory in New York City’s ninth congressional district Sept. 13 — in a special election to replace disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner — shocked the nation. But more important, it also could have signaled the end of the idea, propagated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of New York’s future as a “luxury product.”

For a decade, the Bloomberg paradigm has held the city together: Wall Street riches fund an expanding bureaucracy that promotes social liberalism and nanny-state green politics. Indeed, Wall Street’s fortune — guaranteed by federal bailouts and monetary policy under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — has been the key to the mayor’s largely self-funded political success. Under Bloomberg, Wall Street’s profits allowed city expenditures to grow 40% faster than the rate of inflation. Bloomberg was also able to buy political peace by bestowing raises two to three times the rate of inflation on the city’s unionized workers.

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California Wages War On Single-Family Homes

Appearing in:

Forbes

In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.

In California, the assault on the house has gained official sanction. Once the heartland of the American dream, the Golden State has begun implementing new planning laws designed to combat global warming. These draconian measures could lead to a ban on the construction of private residences, particularly on the suburban fringe. The new legislation’s goal is to cram future generations of Californians into multi-family apartment buildings, turning them from car-driving suburbanites into strap-hanging urbanistas.

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India Conquers the World

Appearing in:

Newsweek

From the exclusive Club Lounge on the 19th floor of Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental, Anish Lalvani gazes out at the city’s skyline, a dazzling array of glass and steel and vertical ambition. The Lalvani family has come a long way since the days when Anish’s paternal grandfather, Tirath Singh Lalvani, got his start in business by retailing medicines to King George VI’s soldiers in Karachi. Back then the city was a part of British colonial India—until independence arrived in 1947, and its inhabitants suddenly found themselves amid the bloody turmoil of the newborn Pakistan. The Lalvanis, like millions of others on both sides of the border, fled for their lives. But instead of making new homes in present-day India, the Lalvanis sought their fortunes abroad. Today the family’s Hong Kong–based Binatone Group employs some 400 people on four continents. “We couldn’t break the old boys’ network,” says Anish. “But overseas we created our own.” Read more

Why America’s Young And Restless Will Abandon Cities For Suburbs

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For well over a decade urban boosters have heralded the shift among young Americans from suburban living and toward dense cities. As one Wall Street Journal report suggests, young people will abandon their parents’ McMansions for urban settings, bringing about the high-density city revival so fervently prayed for by urban developers, architects and planners.

Some demographers claim that “white flight” from the city is declining, replaced by a “bright flight” to the urban core from the suburbs. “Suburbs lose young whites to cities,” crowed one Associated Press headline last year.

Yet evidence from the last Census show the opposite: a marked acceleration of movement not into cities but toward suburban and exurban locations. The simple, usually inexorable effects of maturation may be one reason for this surprising result. Simply put, when 20-somethings get older, they do things like marry, start businesses, settle down and maybe start having kids.

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The Next Boom Towns In The U.S.

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

What cities are best positioned to grow and prosper in the coming decade?

To determine the next boom towns in the U.S., with the help of Mark Schill at the Praxis Strategy Group, we took the 52 largest metro areas in the country (those with populations exceeding 1 million) and ranked them based on various data indicating past, present and future vitality.

We started with job growth, not only looking at performance over the past decade but also focusing on growth in the past two years, to account for the possible long-term effects of the Great Recession. That accounted for roughly one-third of the score.  The other two-thirds were made up of a a broad range of demographic factors, all weighted equally. These included rates of family formation (percentage growth in children 5-17), growth in educated migration, population growth and, finally, a broad measurement of attractiveness to immigrants — as places to settle, make money and start businesses.

We focused on these demographic factors because college-educated migrants (who also tend to be under 30), new families and immigrants will be critical in shaping the future.  Areas that are rapidly losing young families and low rates of migration among educated migrants are the American equivalents of rapidly aging countries like Japan; those with more sprightly demographics are akin to up and coming countries such as Vietnam.

Many of our top performers are not surprising. No. 1 Austin, Texas, and No. 2 Raleigh, N.C., have it all demographically: high rates of immigration and migration of educated workers and healthy increases in population and number of children. They are also economic superstars, with job-creation records among the best in the nation.

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