Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The exceptional tenure of Pittsburghers

While I take note of an interesting article (h/t @BurghDiaspora) from a Tulane geographer explaining that most perceptions of regional exceptionalism are misconstrued.  See: The Seduction of Exceptionalism, which is a great read, especially for Pittsburghers. However, like Freud said: The paranoid is never entirely mistaken, so sometimes there is truth in uniqueness.   So it goes in Pittsburgh at least with this.

I was inspired by this metropolitan benchmarking out of Philadelphia from BillyPenn: Parochial Philly: Is the city too hostile to ‘outsiders’, and does that hold us back?  Also a great read for Pittsburghers.  Their datapoint is a benchmarking of how many local residents live in their current state of residence.  Note their benchmarking shows Pittsburgh a more extreme case than Philly to begin with.   But I threw out there a comment that Pittsburgh is always the worst in this type of metric, and then realized I had not actually calculated that in some time... so maybe it was no longer the case.  I felt obliged to check.  

A more common benchmarking over the years is much more about very local geographic mobility, or lack thereof.  There is typically a question in official surveys (like the ACS) asking how long a householder has lived in their current place of residence.  Literally how long they have resided at their current addresss.  From that answer you can compute the size of the population broken down by tenure of the householder. If you do a breakdown of the size of the population whose householder has lived in their current housing unit in the oldest category it has long worked out that Pittsburgh always comes out on top. i.e.  we have a lot of folks who have lived in their current homes a long time, more so than what is typical elsewhere.

Has that changed? 'New' Pittsburgh and all?  Looks like it has not even budged much for the metro benchmarking. Here is what I get for the most recent data I like to use which is the 5 year ACS data.






How much does that graphic explain everything else here?

Yes, I suspect this is one of those metrics heavily impacted by age, but it is more than that. And note that age demographics impacts Pittsburgh far differently than say 'old' regions of Florida where many residents have moved upon retirement. For Pittsburgh aging is very much an aging in place phenomenon.  So you see not only that we are the extreme region in this calculation and the comparison among large metros, albeit it is a bit of a contrived metric.. but we are a big jump above #2.  Beyond the sheer older age demographic still in the region, there is this issue of housing price trends over recent decades.  The Pittsburgh region, lacking much equity appreciation in real estate, probably trapped more householders in their current residence as compared to so many other places where value was gained as housing prices went up.  Lacking that equity, it probably was harder to move into newer housing, even as household situations changed over a lifetime. That is my hypothesis at least, but I'd be glad to argue its veracity with anyone who thinks otherwise.

Anyone want to do the same benchmarking/calculation for the city?

4 Comments:

Anonymous BrianTH said...

I think house prices dynamics can cut a lot of different ways, at least at the hypothesis level. For example, maybe more people are able to afford a "dream" rather than "starter" home earlier, extending their tenure in a particular home not because they were trapped in their "starter" home, but because they were already in their "dream" home.

Wild swings in house prices can also cause people to abandon homes, or be evicted in foreclosures. In fact I know we have had pretty low foreclosure rates, and at a guess that would correlate with longer average tenures.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 5:57:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I wasn't even alive in 1970 and I'm old.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 10:33:00 PM  
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Monday, August 08, 2016 10:30:00 PM  

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