Study: Is NYC ‘Youthful’ Enough to Keep Millennials From Leaving?

May 18, 2016

Yet another survey on the fascinating habits of millennials comes to us via Gothamist, this time taking a closer look at where that generation’s critical masses are migrating en masse, and why. The Youthful Cities Global Millenial Survey by the data jocks at Decode interviewed 15,000 millennials in 34 cities throughout the world, then divided the results by continent.

The study focused on the idea that millennials were more likely to be satisfied enough to remain in their current city if it’s perceived as a “youthful city.” Some criteria for this magical metric include a government that listens to the concerns of young people, access to fulfilling jobs, safety, healthy residents and access to health services, good post-secondary education programs and clean green space. North American respondents saw affordability as the top concern, followed by employment, safety, and decent public transportation.

The survey shows that millennials see “a direct link between having a youthful city–a dynamic, curious, open, inventive, connected and playful city–and economic and financial benefits, including higher employment rates, more jobs, a stronger economy and a thriving environment for small business and entrepreneurship.”

Image: Merlijn Hoek via photopin cc

Europe was in first place with 43.8 percent of respondents believing they live in a youthful city. Latin America was in second place with 36.6 percent and North America third with 36.3 percent. On the attributes of youthful cities, according to the study, Montreal came in first in terms of having a sympathetic government, Berlin was the best city for cyclists, Warsaw wins for public transit, Moscow gets the top spot for financial prospects, Mumbai has the most entrepreneurial spirit. London has the “most youthful mayor,” (which is apparently a thing), Addis Ababa got kudos for being a great skateboard city (also a thing?), New York got kudos for its contribution to film, music, and fashion among the young, and San Francisco got votes for “commitment to the environment, job opportunities, and entrepreneurial spirit.”

According to the study, safety, education and health top the list of what’s important, beating out fashion, food and nightlife, which shows that this generation has their head screwed on straight (though it’s worth mentioning that the latter are often precursors of the former when it comes to the effort put into making cities livable). On life in North America, respondents said they’re pretty happy (79 percent), though not very employed (35 percent), and less likely to be better off than their parents than respondents from other nations (26 percent thought they’d end up better off financially than their parents, compared to a global 31 percent)–definitely one of the huge bragging points of previous American generations that has taken a beating of late.

Image © Matthew Richmond

Another interesting finding: More than three quarters of global youth (76 percent) use public transit to get around, the highest usage being in Europe with 90 percent and the lowest in North America at 65.7 percent. “It is the most prevalent way that youth (and many others) travel around their cities and if they don’t feel transit is performing well and therefore holding them back from doing what they want to do personally or professionally, the city may be at risk of losing them.” It’s a part of infrastructure that’s definitely lagging in North America and one that, as the survey points out, is important in getting the millennial generation–and future generations–to stick around and thrive.

Though North American respondents placed “affordabilty” as the most urgent issue to be addressed in their current city, we’re not performing too well in that department; when ranked according to affordability performance, Europe and Asia both came out ahead. North America performed the best in diversity and education, but was “low performing on jobs.”
Image: Whiteleaf via photopin cc

An important takeaway from this global snapshot is that we’re looking at a generation that’s voting with their feet: 58 percent of respondents said that they’ll leave their city within the next 10 years. This shows that they’re embracing their increasing mobility, and highlights the fact that they’ll head to whichever city fits the bill more closely, rather than just staying put and putting up with it.

[Via Gothamist]

Lead Image via 20071110_0213 via photopin (license)


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