Sunday, August 23, 2015

Understanding migration in DC key to many public policy issues

Lyman Stone―self-described global cotton economist, migration blogger, and proud Kentuckian―has produced a series on migration in the DC metro area.   This series is a must-read for policy makers, policy influencers, businesses, and nonprofit providers.

The three posts in the series are:

Post 1 presents an overview of migration in the region, by area and overall.   Stone concludes with what many of us know: That the population in the metro area is migratory and transient.   His description of the population of the District is easy to understand:

We might think of this in life cycle terms: young students and interns move to DC, get married and move to the suburbs, then, when their kids hit school age, maybe they move somewhere closer to family and affordable education. But it’s very clear that the migration dynamo driving the DC metro area isn’t Virginia or Maryland: it's the District of Columbia itself.

Part 2 examines the patterns of migration by things such as class and family status.   As was the case in Part 1, Stone explains the data.   And he includes easy-to-understand graphs such as the one below which shows in and out migration by age group and jurisdiction.

Stone considers which states gain people from and lose people to DC in Part 3.

It is Stone's summary of the series that offers food for thought for those interested in community, public policy, and the like:

These trends imply that the DC metro area may provide amenities that serve mobile, low-family-commitment individuals very well. For those without large families and who are comfortable moving frequently and not putting down deep roots, the DC metro area will work well. In other words, high-performing, long-hour professionals are likely to thrive. But on the other hand, the metro area does not appear to provide the right benefits to attract and retain families and older people. The reality is that families and older people aren’t sticking around. Maybe the amenities aren’t good, or maybe the prices are too high, but these groups are in fact valuable for promoting the formation of social capital in a locality. Family ties, and especially multi-generational family ties, encourage people to make social (and financial) investments in their communities and their neighbors that they might not otherwise make. Parents with kids care about the local schools and parks more than 20-somethings. By alienating these essential social builders, the DC metro area makes for itself a situation of ongoing social disconnection, high and persistent inequality, contentious gentrification debates, and perpetual transiency.

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