Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Family-Friendly Cities

The WSJ ran an interesting editorial espousing policies that would lead to more family-friendly cities. Due to an odd combination of high-priced homes and blighted zones or great schools difficult to obtain admission to and extremely poor schools, cities often struggle to retain families. At stake, though, is the very future vitality of the city.

There is a basic truth about the geography of young, educated people. They may first migrate to cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston or San Francisco. But they tend to flee when they enter their child-rearing years.

In San Francisco, for instance, the population of children living in the city has dropped by more than 33 percent since 1960 as families with children have moved out. Elementary schools have had to close. This is a problem because cities that don't have families tend not to experience economic growth. And losing families points to a problem.

In order to create a healthy vibrant city, the emphasis should be on retaining young people as they grow up, marry, start families and continue to raise them. In order to do so, cities must become more family-friendly.

The key is to work closely with local public and private schools, churches, and civic organizations to build up the support structures that might convince today's youthful inner city urbanites to remain as they start families. Looking at the parks, playgrounds, and schools that young families would use is paramount to convincing them to stay.

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