Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Localism?

A friend tipped me off to a Newsweek column on "the new localism," by writer and geography buff Joel Kotkin. In the piece, Kotkin says, among other things that
After decades of frantic mobility and homogenization, we are seeing a return to placeness, along with more choices for individuals, families, and communities.
It seems that attachments to local places are even starting to trump desires for career advancement and higher salaries.

Kotkin's most significant evidence comes in this passage:
Yet in reality Americans actually are becoming less nomadic. As recently as the 1970s as many as one in five people moved annually; by 2006, long before the current recession took hold, that number was 14 percent, the lowest rate since the census starting following movement in 1940. Since then tougher times have accelerated these trends, in large part because opportunities to sell houses and find new employment have dried up. In 2008, the total number of people changing residences was less than those who did so in 1962, when the country had 120 million fewer people.
What's going on here? The recession and real estate market certainly put the brakes on mobility, and work-at-home technology is making home-based workplaces more possible. But are we really seeing a deeper attachment to local places? I hope so, and I hope Kotkin is right.

Localism can be a healthy response to too-much globalism.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think these data are informative, but what about the median distance moved by families (in addition to simple relocation figures) that relocated during the 1970s as opposed to the 2000s? According to the US Census Bureau figures on geographic mobility, the percentage of residents living in the same state in which they were born declined from 63.9% in 1980 to 61.8% in 1990 to 60.0% in 2000. Like you, I believe that "localism can be a healthy response to too-much globalism". But just how "locally" must (or should) localism be defined?