The ECONOMIST: Why Are Some American Cities Growing Desolate?
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From The Economist:

Briefing | Emptying and fuming

America is uniquely ill-suited to handle a falling population

Which is a worry, because much of it is already shrinking

Apr 18th 2024|cairo, illinois

Cairo, a town at the southern tip of Illinois founded in the early 19th century, was given that name because it was expected to grow into a huge metropolis. Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, it was the transport hub of a region that became known as “Little Egypt” because of its huge deltaic plains where farmers could grow anything.

Today, however, the name is redolent of lost civilisations. To walk around is a strange experience. Turreted Victorian houses gently crumble, being reclaimed by the weeds. What was once downtown (pictured) resembles an abandoned film set. Cairo has no petrol stations, no pharmacies and no hospitals. It has gone from six schools to two, both half-empty.

Cairo, Illinois is 69% black. Majority black communities tend to empty out over time, such as Detroit, Gary, East St. Louis, and, lately, Birmingham and Jackson (unless they are so well-located, like Compton near LAX, that Hispanics want them). I graphed this recently:

Some other cities like Memphis would be officially declining in population except that state laws in the South often allow inner cities to imperialize their suburbs and involuntarily annex them.

Some of this is due to declines in local industry’s need for workers, some of it is due to the more enterprising blacks moving to places with more modern economies like Charlotte and Atlanta. But that sets off a death spiral in which the nonworkers stay behind, the crime rates rise, and everything falls apart.

Is The Economist aware of this basic fact about modern American life?

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