Here’s an interesting idea: the Institute of Marriage and Family, Canada, has compiled a report on the country’s top family-friendly cities, looking at factors such as population growth, lower taxes, a strong economy, education choice and charitable giving.
Among the top five are three big cities — Vancouver (British Columbia province), Calgary and Edmonton (Alberta) — but also the two growing cities of Kitchener and Guelph in Ontario. While other cities score A+ on some measures, these scored an overall A grade.
Authors Rebecca Walberg Andrea Mrozek point out that all Canadian cities are “great places to live in” by international standards, but at a time when people are more mobile than ever it makes sense for those considering a move to look at how likely a place is to help the family thrive.
They graded cities on five points: community feel, education choice, cost of living, economic strength, and family independence. The dynamics work two ways:
A family-friendly city will attract more families, who will contribute to the community themselves. Healthy, thriving families help create great cities as much as a city can ever offer a package of goods to attract families. The two reinforce each other.
Walberg and Mrozek rightly point out that, with fewer people marrying today and more raising children alone or in de facto unions, authorities could conclude that the family matters less. In other words, they could begin to shape cities around other considerations, such as the needs of single parents.
Obviously, not everyone is free to live where they would like, and I can see at least one difficulty in the proposed scheme. One of the measures for family independence is the percentage of seniors living with family as opposed to alone or in an institution, but, to be consistent, if a young family were to move to such a city they would, at some stage, have to persuade the grandparents to move there as well. And that might not be easy.