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Where do millennials want to live?


Walkability in the context of urban studies does not mean walking as purely physical activity. In other words, a good quality sidewalk does not mean good walkability. It means an urban space where your economic and social activities are supported by walking and public transportation.

For a walkable city, quite a variety of urban spatial elements are relevant including land use, public transportation network, street design, etc. For example, when you meet a friend to eat and go shopping, you should be able to walk and use mass transit to get to your appointment from home, and the journey in-between must be safe and not boring. The more activities each street has the safer.

Figure 1. Street with small retails

Figure 2. Street with large retail

A street with many small-scale retail shops in a row is more likely to give more activities than a street with big box stores that are 1 mile apart, maintaining a safe and not boring space. In other words, in the same unit space (e.g., 100 ft x 100 ft), a walkable city has more chances to have more things to do.


We looked at consumer reports from a couple of institutes about millennials. A common conclusion from the reports is that Millennials have utterly different consumption patterns from their parents' generation [1,2]. They have a large spending share in "experiential", which includes travel, entertainment, and dining [1]. Additionally, they tend not to own cars.

Where is the city space where you can spend more on experiential activities without owning a car? When we question ourselves, we came up with a pedestrian-friendly city, where shops/restaurants/retail stores are dense and well-connected by mass transit, and we wondered whether the distribution of millennials and walkability are related.

The analysis uses the Market Stadium platform, and since the population difference by the city is large, the population ratio by age was examined. The spatial unit was set as "county". The correlation between the population ratio by age group and the walkability score is as follows (20-24 years old, 25-34 years old, 35-44 years old, 45-54 years old, 55-59 years old). The correlation percentage indicates how closely two variables are related to each other, and the larger the correlation, the more significant the relationship is.

As there are many other social and economic factors to determine the population ratio by age group, we assumed moderately correlated when it is close to 0.5. The results are interesting for those 20-44 year age groups, the more walkable cities tend to have a higher proportion of those age group population. On the other hand, in the population group over 45 years of age, the more walkable the city, the smaller the proportion of those age group population.

Figure 3. Relationship between walkability and age group 20-24 (%) by county

Figure 4. Relationship between walkability and age group 24-34 (%) by county

Figure 5. Relationship between walkability and age group 35-44 (%) by county

Figure 6. Relationship between walkability and age group 45-54 (%) by county

Figure 7. Relationship between walkability and age group 55-59 (%) by county

The following cities are in the Top 20 cities that have the highest walkability scores in the US and are attractive to the younger generation.

Figure 8. Top 20 highest walkable score counties

Darker blue has a higher walk score than other areas.

Figure 9. Denver Walkability


[1] Kurz, C. J., Li, G., & Vine, D. J. (2019). Are millennials different?. In Handbook of US consumer economics (pp. 193-232). Academic Press.

[2] Tseng, N.-H. (2014, May 30). Why car companies can't win young adults. Fortune. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from

Q & A?

Ken Park

Data Scientist

PhD candidate in Urban Systems at NYU, focusing on BIM & Digital Twin.

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