How Millennials Are Rocking the Cradle

On this blog recently there have been several posts wondering whether the millenials are going to stay in the city once they have kids. The attractions of a bigger yard, better schools, etc. are too much for them to resist, some say, so they will decamp for the suburbs just as the previous generations have. 

A demographer in Virginia has put together a couple of graphics that suggest strongly that young people today are staying in the city even after their kids reach school age. The data is rather striking. 

The demographer compares data from 2005 to 2013, showing a shift since the Great Recession in which school districts first graders are being enrolled. Back in 2005, the number of first graders in suburban or exurban counties tended to exceed the number of births in those places six years earlier. What was happening was that families were leaving the cities when it was time to enroll in the public schools.

But in 2013, the trend appears to be reversing. More families are enrolling their kids in urban districts, and those school systems are feeling a sudden pressure to find more space.

A warning, from Hamilton Lombard:

“Most urban school divisions in Virginia have high retention rates after first grade. If parents are reluctant to move once their children have started school, then most urban school divisions will expect their enrollment to continue to rise as elementary school students progress through the grades. An increase in families staying in urban areas would mean that local governments will have a lot more to plan for than just classroom space.”

(Photo by Ron Henry CC BY)

David Holtzman is a planner for Louisa County, Virginia, a freelance writer, and a former Shelterforce editor.


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