Markus Moos: The Trend-Maker Who Popularized Youthification
It was a surprise to Markus Moos (pronounced “Mohs”) when the term “youthification” caught on. The Ph.D./geographer/planner/teacher only used the word for the first time in 2014.
It was at the American Collegiate Schools of Planning conference in Philadelphia where he first presented his research on youthification. Moos later tweeted about this work when he launched his Generational City research project in early 2015. Richard Florida picked it up and posted information about the term in an article on CityLab, and the word quickly entered the planning lexicon.
“It all happened because of social media,” Moos says. “That’s really how it caught on.”
Youthification was born after Moos’ difficult days of grad school. He was studying housing market changes and carried that work on into his current research. His graduate work dealt with “condofication,” where he explored trends in new high-rise housing from the supply side. He also looked at gentrification and how resultant neighborhood upgrades influenced housing and social class.
So, it was a logical next step to find a term to describe the circumstance of neighborhoods becoming younger over time and staying younger over time—a word to express the influx of and maintenance of a large share of young adults in neighborhoods. It doesn’t describe an area just at one moment in time; it describes spaces that remain young, while adapting over time.
The term youthification is used to describe the influx of young adults, ages 25-34, who continue to gravitate toward urban lifestyles in high-density cities, but it is not purely an urban movement. Moos says that it occurs in downtowns and in secondary downtowns, meaning places of high density. These include transit-oriented developments, walkable communities, and areas where condos and apartments create informal regional villages.
There is commonality in the composition of youthified areas, according to Moos. “It’s a whole neighborhood discussion,” he says. “There are great similarities in the kinds of neighborhood amenities: non-traditional work spaces, medium-rise buildings, small shops, a walkable environment. It fits the coffee shop and restaurant patio cliché. It also speaks to the shared community movement, popularized by Uber, Zip Car, Airbnb, and others.”
Moos says that big cities in Texas show some signs of youthification, though not in large concentrations like neighborhoods in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.
Moos does not see a clear pattern emerging in Dallas or Houston, but sees a distinct demand for transit-oriented, walkable communities in both cities. The future will show whether youthification is a trend or a long-term change in how populations disperse by ages and interests.
Contributed by Linda Mastaglio, managing editor of Columns magazine and owner of TWI-PR.