In a recent article on Portland, the normally rock solid Economist commits an error:
Indeed Portland, for all its history of Western grit, is remarkably white, young and childless.
Stop it, stop it, stop it.
Here’s the truth: Portland has quite a lot of children. (Though how little tykes would increase the city’s “Western grit” is a bit of a puzzler.)
The childless Portland thing is a lazy repetition of a myth (propagated by Joel Kotkin) that just won’t go away. But what’s really amazing about this myth, as Clark has pointed out, is that it’s pretty obviously false. A couple of minutes on The Googles and you clearly see that Portland has a heap of children.
While Portland has fewer children than many American big cities, it has more children per capita than Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Boston, Charleston, Fort Lauderdale, Santa Fe, Washington DC, or Tempe, just for example. And it’s got way more children than its nearest peers, Seattle and San Francisco. Portland is right about on par with places like Orlando, Denver, Richmond, Miami, and Minneapolis. In other words, it’s unremarkable.
What’s more, Portland is becoming more child friendly, at least relative to the rest of the country. (So is Seattle.) Nationally and regionally, the share of the population under 18 is declining, but the share of children nationally is declining 50 percent faster than it is in Portland. And in Oregon overall, the share of children is declining twice as fast as it is in Portland. In fact, at last count in 2008, Portland had pretty much the same share of children as the state of Oregon overall.
Can we put this one to bed now?