This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

South Suburbs of Chicago Grow as Blacks Leave the Loop

The New York Times today followed up on a story that I commented on several months ago as the first data from the 2010 Census were being released--the City of Chicago has been shrinking because the black population has been heading to the suburbs. More specifically, the southern suburbs of Chicago.
One path that so many black middle-class home buyers have followed from Chicago’s South Side in recent years ends just off Lincoln Highway, past the entrance to the Newbury Estates subdivision in Matteson.
The subdivision, about 30 miles from the Loop, represents only part of a much greater migration to the south suburbs from 2000 to 2010. In all, Chicago’s black population declined by about 181,000 people, or 17 percent, in that period, according to recently released figures from the 2010 census. The rapid contraction of the black population was the main driver of the city’s overall population loss of about 200,000 in the last decade, a fact noted by Rahm Emanuel in his mayoral inauguration speech in May.
“No great city can thrive by shrinking,” Mr. Emanuel said. “The best way to keep people from leaving is to attract the jobs that give them a good reason to stay.”
But many left despite having good jobs in the city. Although the census data does not indicate where those who left Chicago ended up, the new population figures show that Matteson recorded the largest numerical increase in blacks of any city in the Chicago area.
This is a pattern repeated almost everywhere in the US, and the people involved in suburbanization would probably think that is really as a type of "smart" growth. One person interviewed by the Times talked about the fact that the old neighborhood in Chicago was like a shooting gallery every night. It's smart to get out of there if you can. But it also raises important questions about the adaptability of older cities in the face of the suburban transition (part of the overall urban evolution). The roles and functions of inner cities have been changing for a long time, and some cities have done better than others in realizing this and adjusting to it.

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