Children playing outside is a natural picture of the American suburban landscape. But in 2011, people are wondering — where did all the kids go?
William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution, calls children in the suburbs an “endangered species.”
The dropping children population is reshaping the look of suburbs, experts say. As more women delay having children and more families have fewer children, the childhood population under the age of 18 has dropped in 95 percent of U.S. counties since 2000, according to an analysis by USA Today of 2010 Census data. Despite a 9.7 percent growth in the overall population, the number of households with children under age 18 has remained at 38 million since 2000 — that’s fewer than the number of households with dogs (which stands at 43 million).
“All of a sudden, there may technically be no children in the neighborhood,” says James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University.
So what’s this all mean for suburbia? In some areas of the country, schools have closed from declining enrollments, some child-oriented businesses are closing, and housing needs are shifting.
“Lots of singles, lots of elderly, fewer kids — what this does really is free people in their location decisions to a certain extent if they’re not bound by school and safety aspects,” says Armando Carbonell, chair of the department of planning and urban form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. “It can mean growth in the central city where schools might have been a concern. More households will be able to locate to places without the attributes of the suburbs.”
Source: “Is America’s Love Affair with Kids Waning?” USA Today (June 3, 2011); Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee