Monday, January 27, 2020
It may just be me, but it seems there are a lot of stories about Boomers recently. I guess it makes sense, given the ages of boomers. Some of the stories may be a bit more tongue-in-cheek, or cultural illustrations rather than substantive, (see, e.g. Chief Justice Roberts: Is 'OK, Boomer' Evidence Of Age Discrimination? and Saturday Night Live-Undercover Boss: Where are they now). A recent article in the New York Times reviewed a myth about boomers living in urban environments. The Myth of the Urban Boomer Baby boomers are actually less drawn to urban living than previous generations.
Baby boomers are such a large group that you can find them practically everywhere in great numbers, including in urban areas. Today in cities, for example, you’re more likely to run into a 54-to-72-year-old with your bike or scooter (please be careful!) than you would have in the past.
Maybe that’s the reason many news media accounts have promoted the idea that boomers are returning to cities at a rapid rate.
It seems to make sense. Many downtowns are safer and livelier than they were 30 years ago. At a certain point, downsizing and moving back to the city has appeal — it’s closer to work and all those interesting things to do, and the children might have finally left the nest.
There’s one problem. The story line is wrong: Boomers today are actually less urban than previous generations of older people.
The article has some interesting data regarding housing preferences and trends for boomers. The article's closing paragraph gives a good snapshot for those who don't have time to read the entire article: "[f]or developers and public officials in cities, the rising number of older city dwellers is real, and it matters. There is growing demand for the housing features and public services that many older adults prefer. More of the urban housing stock will need to be homes that work for seniors. But that’s not because boomers love cities or are more drawn to urban living than previous generations — just the opposite. It’s simply that there are more of them, almost everywhere." (As an aside, the article at one point refers to some boomers as "the urban oldster.")