3.31.2008

MORE RICH KIDS IN THE BIG APPLE

An interesting piece in the Washington Post about the spike up in wealthy white toddlers living in Manhattan: "The Big Apple's Little Boom." This quote, by a local developer, says it all: "It used to be that somebody would live in a 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan until they had kids, and then go buy a 3,000-square-foot house in the suburbs. Today they want to go and create the 3,000-square-foot house in a luxury building in Manhattan."

In other words, cities are becoming more competitive: for a larger and larger proportion of upper middle class people, once they have kids, the urban location/amenities/schools/safety package is holding its own against its suburban equivalent. What this means is that other, financially needier city residents benefit from the extra tax revenues these families add to their municipalities, either in the form of lower taxes and/or more amenities (notably social services, education, and recreation).

And, as Mayor Bloomberg pointed out in his latest sustainability report, more people living in dense Manhattan rather than a far-flung suburb means less pollution, congestion, and natural resource consumption. Partaking of various recreational resources, cultural amenities, or retail districts probably happens more often, too, since they now involve walking down the street or hopping on the subway or taxi for five minutes, rather than fighting traffic for God knows how long and then circling forever to find a parking spot. So there's a consumption-driven stimulus to the core of the metro economy, as well.

In short, who knew that having more rich white toddlers living in the Big Apple would have so many different kinds of benefits for so many different kinds of people? So you can hate all you want on the pricey preschools and the $700 Maclaren strollers, but know that there's a lot of good coming out of this demographic trend.
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