Predictable surprise: The spatial and social morphology of aging suburbs in the u.s. metropolitan areas

Jaekyung Lee, Saheum Hong, Yunmi Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Elderburbs, defined as old suburban neighborhoods in terms of their 'built environments' and 'demographic structures', have emerged prominently in academic discussion due to the social vulnerability and outdated built environments of senior dominant neighborhoods that barely meet the needs of their aging populations. Even though previous literature has revealed concerns about suburban decline and the growing number of seniors, these two points of interest have largely been examined in isolation from one another. Thus, this paper attempts to unveil the spatial and social morphology of Elderburbs in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2010. Elderburbs were identified by two major criteria; built year (first-generation suburbs built between 1950 and 1970) and demographic aging (based on elderly, elderly-child, and elderly dependency ratios). The findings of this study indicate that Elderburbs have increased and expanded out to suburban areas, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. On the contrary, Elderburbs in the South have decreased and moved closer to core cities. Differing from our assumptions, both Elderburbs and Elderurbans were found to be less socially vulnerable than ordinary suburban and urban neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number458
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 19 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors.


  • Aging neighborhood
  • Suburbs
  • Vulnerability


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