A Rutgers University study debunks the popular myth that high-density developments burden local school systems. The study, based on 2000 Census data, presents averages of the number of people, school-age children, and public school children that live in different types of communities. The study focuses on data from New Jersey houses built between 1990 and 2000, but the results are telling.

The key finding: Every 100 three-bedroom single-family homes generate 298 people with 58 school-age children, of whom 48 would likely attend public school. But for every 100 two-bedroom multifamily condos, there are only 180 people, 12 of school age, and 10 who would likely attend public school.

City officials, developers, and planners across the country can learn an important lesson from this report, says author David Listokin, a professor at Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. “A lot of times, people will view multifamily units and say every unit will have one child. It's closer to 0.1 than 1.0 [children],” he says. Interestingly, units located in transit-oriented developments generated about one-sixth the number of public-school pupils than those not located near a transit system. Every 100 units in a transit-oriented development contains, on average, only two public school children.

The study also reveals a drop across all housing types in the number of residents and students brought in by new development in New Jersey.