Athur C. Nelson, professor of city and regional planning at the University of Utah and  Director of Metropolitan Research, reports that by 2020 there will be a 90% increase in households without children. What’s more is that 47% of this population will be Baby Boomers who have reached retirement age. Nelson believes there will be a shift to multifamily rental housing to meet this emerging demand.

In Housing in America: The Next Decade, 2010, John Mc Ilwain writes, “The age of suburbanization and growing homeownership is over. The coming decades will be a time of greater-urbanization as 24/7 central cities grow, and suburbs around the country are redeveloped with new or revived walk-able suburban town centers.” Already, it is reported, 75% of boomers contemplating retirement want to rent, not own, and live in walk-able, urban situations.

The impact of so many new households without children is obvious, but Nelson explains further: “When those 65 and older move, 80 percent vacate single-family houses, but only 41 percent move into single-family units. The rest, 59 percent, move into multifamily buildings for a variety of reasons such as low maintenance and proximity to services.”

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), married couples with children, the demographic that has driven America’s housing industry for 50 years, now account for only 25% of households, and they are declining.

McIlwain further states: “This transition will be fueled by the increasing incidence of ‘Going Solo’ – where people lead engaged, fulfilled lives, living alone, but in neighborhoods of like-minded individuals.“

In their groundbreaking book, The Cultural Creatives, Paul H. Ray, PhD and Sherry Ruth Anderson, PhD, made the case in 2000 that as many as 50 million Americans identify themselves as part of this new subculture. In 2008 they up-dated their findings to report that the number of these ‘world-changers’ had increased to 80 million.

“When we say that demographics don’t define the Cultural Creatives, we mean that their demographics are not very different from those of the country as a whole,” Ray and Anderson write.

“Many Cultural Creatives are very uncomfortable when described as ‘consumers’ because they feel this elevates a minor part of their lives to more importance than they care to give it,” say Ray and Anderson. “They complain that focusing on what they buy and how they live reflects the needs of businesses that want to sell them things.”

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