Coronavirus Pandemic Refugees and the Future of American Cities

James H. Johnson, Jr.


Paralleling crisis behavior in prior pandemics and continuing a contemporary migration trend already underway, wealthy individuals and families as well as remote workers in a host of other demographic groups are fleeing major, high cost, densely settled urban centers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These coronavirus pandemic refugees are relocating to less densely settled suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas—creating, in some instances, new “Zoom Towns.” The implications for the future viability of large cities are far ranging if, unlike prior pandemics, the social distance moves of coronavirus pandemic refugees and the aversion to dense urban living continue post-Covid-19.

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