Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

The Millennial City: Trends, Implications, and Prospects for Urban Planning and Policy

Markus Moos, Deirdre Pfeiffer, Tara Vinodrai




The Millennial City explores how urban residents born between 1980 and 1997 are reshaping city life. Its chapters are grouped into sections on economics, housing, mobility, and projections for the future. Across the chapters, a picture emerges of North American middle-class millennials who are characterized by greater economic precarity/flexibility, indebtedness, intergenerational transfer of wealth, delocalization/mobility, online life, and interest in certain urban amenities, relative to previous generations.

These chapters focus on Canada and the US. Yet multiple authors stress the importance of context – of comparisons between and within cities to avoid overly homogenizing views of a generation (although some generalization is inevitable).

Some planners, when referring to millennials, appear to mainly be referring to a certain class of affluent, aspirational young people. This bias shows up in policies that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. Tara Vinodrai describes new urban phenomena designed to attract or cater to millennials, such as co-working spaces and innovation districts, and lays out the positives (e.g. economic growth) and negatives (e.g. displacement) associated with them.

Overall, the authors point out that understanding the traits of a “millennial city” is useful both for stimulating dynamism and for avoiding planning that shuts out certain age groups.


Further reading:

Cortright, Joe (2017), “No, young people aren’t fleeing cities”, CityLab, 20 December, available at https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/12/are-young-people-really-leaving-cit....

Deka, Devajyoti (2018), “Are millennials moving to more urbanized and transit-oriented countries?”, Journal of Transport and Land Use Vol 11, No 1, available at https://www.jtlu.org/index.php/jtlu/article/view/1345.

Environment and Urbanization (2010), “Youth and the city”, Vol 22, No 2, available at https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/eaua/22/2.


Book note prepared by Christine Ro

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