What Is a Suburb?

June 14, 2019
suburbs
Photo: Unsplash/Stefano Zanin

New research tries to pin down America’s most idealized living environment: the suburb.

Curbed reports that though the majority of Americans live in areas loosely defined as suburbs, “U.S. statistical agencies do not provide a systematic definition for suburbs.” 

Now a working paper by Whitney Airgood-Obrycki and Shannon Rieger of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies does yeoman’s work in filling this gap. The researchers organize a wide variety of statistical data to provide a detailed portrait of America’s suburbs.  

The study confirmed that most Americans live in suburbs: 60-80%, depending on the characteristics used to define suburbs. It also found that the majority of suburbanites own single-family homes, commute by car, and make more than their urban counterparts. 

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