Are Millennials Coming to Town? Residential Location Choice of Young Adults

Hyojung Lee

How widespread is the downtown resurgence among the current generation of young adults 25 to 34 years old, often referred to as the Millennials? Answering the question, this article provides a detailed analysis of the past, current, and future geographic population distribution, focusing on the young adults. It first documents the demographic shifts from 1990 to 2015 by distance from the central business districts (CBDs) of the 50 largest U.S. metros. The results of the intrametropolitan analysis reconcile the back-to-the-city thesis with sustained suburban growth, explaining how the two sides have reached different conclusions. Then this article empirically examines the generational residential patterns using a multinomial logistic regression, suggesting the generational characteristics of the Millennials, at least partially, explain their inclination to choose city center over suburbs. The simulations based on the model estimates indicate that ongoing demographic shifts might contribute to more population growth in urban centers over the next two decades.