Downward Mobility

7 thoughts on “Downward Mobility”

  1. What I can’t understand is why folks persist in making (to me transparently) counterproductive choices. Not just the obvious like living beyond your means, but side-effects of policies that make life harder. Why can’t they connect the dots between their preferences and the results? Especially given the long-term nature of the trends.

  2. The worst part about suburbia is often over looked: The lack of shade.

    In an urban environment with dense-infrastructure and tall buildings, you can walk on either side of a street at (almost) any point in the day in complete shade. This is great for people who walk/bike, because the cooling wind sheer from the buildings makes it comfortable to ride, as well as no infared heat from the sun. Riding a bike in the shade when it’s 80^o out is akin to riding a bike in the sun when it’s 60^o outside.

    In a suburb, you’re in the sun pretty much all the time, which means that you practically have to be in a car with air conditioning to not over-heat or get to your destination covered in sweat. To me, this is one of the main reasons why I left the suburbs for the city and haven’t looked back since. Only problem now is the archaic and outdated “minimum square footage” requirements and “minimum parking space” requirements that most cities have, which not only drives up housing but is trying to turn even the best cities into more and more sprawl.

  3. Americans spend $9k per car? Is that the AAA number? That’s the cost of ownership of a new car you keep for five years or something like that. If everyone did that the fleet average would be 2.5 years, not more than 11. Also it would cost more because you wouldn’t have anyone to sell your car to after year five.

    Click to access quintile.pdf

    Americans spend a mean average of ~ $8.5k on cars, and have 1.9 of them. $7.7k and 1.9 vehicles for the middle quintile.

    1. First, I’m willing to accept your sum of either $8,500 or $7,700 as more accurate than my $9,000. Perhaps your accounting and sources are superior. I’m equally willing to accept your statistic of 1.9 cars on average per American household.

      Second, you seem to be missing my point. The difference between our numbers is rather small relative to the subject at hand. And while the average American household may only have 1.9 cars the numbers are no doubt higher in many auto-dependent outer suburbs, just as they’re surely lower in some inner cites. Those facts don’t alter my overall assertion that many families with declining fortunes find it difficult to keep up with the expenses associated with the traditional “American Dream”.

      1. That figure is total spent on cars, not the cost per car. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

        Click to access income.pdf

        For the 50-70k income group, it’s 9222 for 2.1 cars.

        $4k-4.5k per car is probably a better estimate for what people spend on average nationwide. The cost per car and as you point out the number of cars owned is likely to be higher in a suburb like this where driving distances are generally longer and walking/transit accommodations are so poor. In addition the people who live here are generally in larger households than the nationwide average I would think, increasing the number of cars they would want to have. Census ACS survey offers estimates for how many cars households have at the census tract level if you were eyeballing three cars per house.

        Otherwise I agree with the argument you’re trying to make.

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