Census finds big increase in Md.'s youngest, oldest

May 15, 1991|By James Bock

The youngest and oldest of Marylanders grew in great numbers during the 1980s, census figures released yesterday show, posing challenges for school systems and agencies that serve the elderly.

While Maryland's total population increased by 13.4 percent from 1980 to 1990, three age groups grew at well over twice that rate: people over 65, "baby boomers" aged 25-44, and the boomers' offspring, the "baby boomlet" of children under 5 years old.

Several other trends emerged from the new 1990 census data:

* The traditional married-couple family continued to decline in relative terms in Maryland while the numbers of single-parent house holds and people living alone soared.

* Homeownership increased, with town houses and other attached units accounting for a large share of new single-family housing.

* The cost of rental housing increased even faster than that of owner-occupied homes, and more rental units were vacant than a decade earlier.

The population figures confirmed projections that Maryland's public school enrollments will grow by about 20 percent in the 1990s, said Yale Stenzler, executive director of the Interagency Committee on School Construction.

"Birthrates have been up for several years now," Dr. Stenzler said. "The number of women in the 25- to 35-year-old range has increased because of the baby boom, and they are the ones who are now producing the boomlet."

The baby boom is the postwar bulge in birthrates from 1946 to 1964.

School enrollment dropped significantly from the early 1970s to the late 1980s, Dr. Stenzler said, but "now it's back up, coming out of the trough."

Some schools that were closed or converted to other uses are "coming back on line," he said, as baby-boomer families inject new youth into aging suburbs.

Michel A. Lettre, assistant director of the Maryland Office of Planning, said the census figures hewed quite closely to projections. Out-of-state migration to Maryland helped boost the numbers of children under 5, he said.

"People moving in tend to be families with relatively young children," he said.

The size of the average Maryland household declined modestly as rising birthrates partly offset the overall aging of the population and continued family disintegration.

Only slightly more than half of Maryland households are now occupied by traditional married-couple families. Meanwhile, the number of single-parent families jumped by 31 percent since 1980 and reached nearly 300,000 -- almost one family in four.

Mr. Lettre said the growth of the senior-citizen population was "not a surprise."

Over half a million Marylanders are 65 or older, and more than 135,000 of them live alone, the figures show. The fastest-growing segment of the elderly was those 85 or older.

Mr. Lettre said the housing figures suggested three dominant segments of the population: single-family homeowners who can afford a relatively expensive house; baby boomers looking for an affordable town house, and "those caught in a squeeze who are going more for rental housing and in some cases doubling up."

The median cost of an owner-occupied home nearly doubled over the decade to $116,500. Almost one in five Maryland homes cost more than $200,000.

But the median rent grew even faster, to $473 a month.

In a sign of the search for affordable housing, the number of mobile homes and trailers nearly doubled to almost 56,000 in 1990.

After declining sharply in the 1970s, the number of Marylanders living in overcrowded conditions -- units housing more than one person per room -- leveled off at 3 percent.

The Census Bureau previously reported that blacks and other minorities accounted for 29 percent of Marylanders in 1990, up from about 19 percent in 1970.

A census profile of Maryland

H

. .. .. .. .. .. 1990.. .. .. .. 1980.. .. .. % change

Total population. 4,781,468.. .. 4,216,975.. .. .. . +13.4

Race and Hispanic origin

White.. .. .. .. 3,393,364.. .. 3,158,838.. .. .. .. +7.4

% white.. .. .. .. . 71.0.. .. .. .. 74.9

Black.. .. .. .. .1,189,899.. .. .. 958,150.. .. .. .. +24.2

% black.. .. .. .. .. 24.9.. .. .. . 22.7

Am. Indian, Eskimo

or Aleut.. .. .. . 12,972.. .. .. .. 8,021.. .. .. .. +61.7

% Am. Indian, Eskimo

or Aleut.. .. .. .. 0.3.. .. .. .. . 0.2

Asian or Pacific

Islander.. .. .. 139,719.. .. .. .. 64,278.. .. .. . +117.4

% Asian or Pacific

Islander.. .. .. .. 2.9.. .. .. .. .. 1.5

Other race.. .. . 44,914.. .. .. .. 27,688.. .. .. .. +62.2

% Other race.. .. . 0.9.. .. .. .. .. 0.7

Hispanic

(can be any race) 125,102.. .. .. .. 64,746.. .. .. . +93.2

% Hispanic.. .. .. 2.6.. .. .. .. .. 1.5

Age

Under 5.. .. .. . 357,818.. .. .. .. 272,274.. .. .. . +31.4

5 to 17 years.. . 804,423.. .. .. .. 895,256.. .. .. . -10.1

18 to 20.. .. .. 208,411.. .. .. .. 239,357.. .. .. . -12.9

21 to 24.. .. .. 296,692.. .. .. .. 312,283.. .. .. . -4.9

25 to 44.. .. .. 1,677,104.. .. .. 1,252,646.. .. .. . +33.9

45 to 54.. .. .. . 521,801.. .. .. . 446,488.. .. .. . +16.9

55 to 59.. .. .. . 202,170.. .. .. . 222,682.. .. .. .. -9.2

60 to 64.. .. .. . 195,297.. .. .. . 180,380.. .. .. .. +8.3

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