10.21.2014

Like or Unlike

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Dallas_skyline_and_suburbs.jpgMy attendance at a regional planning meeting triggered a question that I'd like to pose to all of you.  Here's the question.

On the one hand, we are becoming a more tolerant society.  We are more comfortable with diversity of all kinds.  Younger generations harbor a fluidity in social norms, relationships, and beliefs that stands in stark contrasts to the stereotyping, mistrust, and self-segregation of old.  All of this argues for households making location choices that favor mixed settings, where you are neighbors with others who are different from you.  Sameness, after all, is boring and passe; diversity is hot. 

On the other hand, there is a growing gap between the have's and the have-not's, and the fork in the road is education.  So families with means are increasingly insistent on making sure their kids are in the best schools, which means sorting oneself with others like you.  Furthermore, we are becoming more politically polarized, so we are less and less likely to live in a politically heterogeneous neighborhood and rather more likely to dwell among others of your party persuasion. 

So which is the stronger force: the desire to be with others not like you or the desire to be with others just like you?  Obviously, for individuals and households, this is a deeply personal question, and furthermore one's answer may change over time as you go through various stages in life.  But, all in all, is one pull going to be stronger than the other?  Whichever it is, it will have profound implications for local government, land use patterns, school district budgets, and transportation infrastructure, to say nothing of the social influences we subject ourselves to.

So, what do you think?  Like or unlike?
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