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  • What’s got Americans moving to the suburbs?
  • What’s got Americans moving to the suburbs?
    Bertrand Bouchez (2019) ©
REPORT

How has suburban America changed?

The archetypal American suburb may be perceived as quaint, welcoming, and demographically homogeneous, but they have never been denser, more diverse, or poorer. How exactly have these areas transformed over the decades and why do people still want to set up a life in these neighborhoods?

Location United States

Scope
The hallmarks of American suburbia are stubborn and sticky. White picket fences, reliance on cars, and demographic homogeneity are just some of the tropes that have become ingrained in popular culture thanks to shows and movies such as American Beauty, The Simpsons, and Desperate Housewives. But according to Robert Bruegmann, an expert in urban sprawl at the University of Chicago, these clichés have never been wholly accurate. “The stereotype of the white, commuter suburb was, and always has been, a myth,” he says. “[The suburbs] were fairly diverse from the beginning and they remained that way.”[1]

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