What are the demographic trends in city centers?

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Two main categories of the population live in the city centre:
- the students and young professionals seeking a short experience of being in the buzz of city centres
- the "authentic" city dwellers that stay long-term.

Amongst this committed population to live in the city centre, three main sub-groups can be identified:
-'Successful agers' use equity in their suburban properties to purchase expensive 'duplex' apartments in the city centre when they have "done the family thing". They are drawn by the thriving 'high' cultural scene of the city centre, e.g. theatre, restaurants.
- Counter-culturalists, such as gay and lesbian people, are attracted to city centres by the existence of 'gay communities', which provide a tolerant environment in which non-traditional lifestyles and patterns of association can be fostered and sustained.
- 'Lifestyle changers' have either "done the marriage thing" or deliberately chosen not to enter a long-term relationship. They are attracted to the city centre because it accommodates 'single lifestyles', although their commitment to it could be usurped by a change in personal circumstances, e.g. falling in love and having children.

As shown in many reports, the city center population is mainly constituted by young single people that are renters.

Examples

Calgary (2005)
30.3% of the population is comprised of young adults aged 25 to 34, compared to 16% for the city as a whole.
In 2004, there were significantly fewer children under the age of 15 living in the city center (4.2% of the population) compared to 18% city wide.
In the city center, 81.5% of private dwellings are occupied by renters compared to 30% for Calgary.

Manchester city center (2001):
Aged between 18-34: 62%
Single population: 75%
Students: 42%
Living young professional lifestyles: 41%
Rented households: 69%

Sources

• Centre city quick facts – demographics, The city of Calgary, community and neighbourhood services, 2005
• City people living in the UK, Manchester briefing, M.Nathan & C. Urwin, Center for cities, 2005
• The future of city centre living: implications for urban policy, C. Allen & S. Blandy, 2004