Nathan Stubbs

The silver lining of population decline

by Nathan Stubbs

Sure, having a declining population means less jobs, tax dollars, and Louisiana could even lose a Congressional seat, but having people flee your state in droves isn’t all bad. New Orleans City Business interviews some experts who go against the conventional wisdom, pointing out that there is a silver lining to all this outmigration. Billy Fields, director of the Center for Urban and Public Affairs at the University of New Orleans, says that a stable or declining population has actually helped New Orleans maintain some of its unique architecture and neighborhoods, precisely because of a lack of pressure for new development. The article also quotes Red Wassenich, the Austin librarian who came up with the popular phrase “Keep Austin Wierd”, which spoke to how the town began to lose some of its identity as it more than quadrupled in size over the past 50 years. “I just don’t understand (why) growth is automatically seen as a virtue,” Wassenich says. “It’s like it’s in most people’s DNA that that’s what we strive for. We need to transcend that and focus on quality over quantity.”