Improvements in urban quality of life — falling crime, declining air pollution, local beautification projects — are attracting more college graduates to center cities in the United States. In a recent Marron Institute working paper, Matt Holian and Matt Kahn find that an unintended consequence of the rise of such consumer cities is a lower carbon footprint from transportation:
"In this paper, we posit that a socially beneficial consequence of rising center city quality of life is to reduce a metropolitan area’s transportation carbon footprint. Center cities feature a much higher population density and public transit network than the suburbs. When people spend more time downtown, they are more likely to walk and use public transit and to drive less. We argue that a more robust center city increases the desire of all of the metropolitan area’s residents to live a lifestyle that is oriented to visiting and spending more time in that center city."