I’ve posted about my younger siblings before. I write about them so that I have some concrete examples when I say everybody from my hometown gets married young, makes babies, and then never leaves. It’s not just my siblings. It’s a huge proportion of the people I went to high school with. I used to think it was because so many people from my hometown are LDS. Then a friend of mine pointed out that it’s definitely not just the Mormons. So then I attributed it to small town culture. Here’s the thing, though. I’m not from a small town. In fact, it’s fairly large and rapidly growing suburb of Phoenix. Wikipedia even describes it as an “economically diverse suburban center,” a highly educated and affluent community center.” That might be stretching it a bit, but my point is that it’s like it’s a rural farm town. Amber, who writes about Chicago over at Notes on Urban Behavior suggested another explanation for the differences between me and my siblings: the city makes you grow up slower.
Yes, this makes sense. We’ve all heard about delayed adulthood: college grads with no direction, mid-to-late twenty-somethings with no careers and no real regrets about it. Adulthood starts much later than it used to. This shift coincides neatly with urbanization. It also makes sense because, as Amber points out, there are more reasons not to grow up (read: get married, buy a house, and have kids). The cost of living is higher, so it’s harder to save, mortgages are higher so it’s harder to buy, and there’s lots of fun, expensive distractions, so it’s harder to even start thinking about those things. I might add that there are more rental options (as opposed to options to purchase) in the city, more dating options (so why get married), and more career options (so it makes sense to put off having kids).
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily tell us why city people are the way the are. I mean, I just moved to Chicago. It’s way more likely that people like me self-select to move to cities because we want to live in high rises and work than that our urban environments turn us into childless apartment-dwellers.