Financial Times Misunderstands & Misleads on US Cities & Poverty

Letter to the Financial Times 2008.04.06

Re: As cities revive, America's poor are forced to the periphery (April 4)

It is hard to remember a more misleading statement than the “It used to be that poor people lived in cities and the rich lived in the suburbs. Now it's the reverse," by Carol Coletta of CEO’s for cities on poverty in American metropolitan areas. The article itself also does much to mislead. Indeed, the Barube Brookings Institution report notes that gross poverty numbers are now greater in the suburbs than in the core cities. Yet, the poverty rate in the suburbs is only one-half the core cities. Moreover, the suburbs have grown at nine times the rate of core cities since 2000 and now have 2.7 times as much population --- so that they have a larger number of people in poverty should not be surprising. As for the demographic reversal cited by Ms. Coletta, perhaps the wishful thinking of the urban elite is getting in the way of looking at the real data. You can do better than this.

Wendell Cox
Principal, Demographia, St. Louis
Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris