Who are we?

October 09, 1992|By James Bock

It is prime selling season, the autumn of a presidential election year. Those who wish to sell a product, or a candidate, must first consider the market, then tune the message. Take the case of Maryland and its consumers of political ideas. Who is the typical Marylander? That may be a question better answered by a philosopher. But some hints can be found in the sea of statistics that government and private surveyers generate about us every year. The numbers may not define "typicality" in a scientifically valid way. Yet they are a guide to how most people in Maryland live and what they believe.

The typical Marylander . . .

Is a 33-year-old white woman.

Of Maryland's 4.78 million people in 1990, 51.5 percent were female and 71 percent were white (about 25 percent were black). Age 33 was the median (half of all Marylanders were older, half younger).

Lives in the Baltimore suburbs.

In 1990, 49 percent of the state's people, or 2.3 million, lived in the Baltimore metropolitan area, more than two-thirds of them in suburban counties.

Has a family income of $45,034.

That was the median for Maryland in 1990. Median household income was $39,386 -- $42,562 for whites, $30,905 for blacks and $45,644 for Asian-Pacific Islanders. Average annual pay for individual Marylanders who worked in 1989 was $23,466. Is a high school graduate.

Among Marylanders 25 and over, 78.4 percent have at least high school diplomas, 26.5 percent have bachelor's degrees or more, and 10.9 percent have graduate or professional degrees. Believes in God and belongs to a Protestant church, but doesn't go every week.

Some 82 percent of state residents said they believed in God. Only 5 percent said they did not; the rest were unsure. Two-thirds said they belonged to a house of worship in 1988. A majority were Protestant. Only 29 percent said they went to services every week. Most attended at least once a month.

Is a registered Democrat but not a liberal.

There were 2.2 million Marylanders (61.5 percent) registered to vote as of Aug. 31, 1992. Of those, 1.4 million were Democrats, and 660,000 were Republicans. More than a quarter of state residents call themselves politically middle of the road, and slightly fewer are conservative (1989). Less than a fifth say they are liberal. The rest reject political labels.

Considers Chesapeake Bay pollution to be serious, but doesn't feel responsible for it.

Ninety-seven percent of Baltimore area residents thought bay pollution was very or somewhat serious, but that 68.5 percent said the things they do around their house contributes "very little" to the problem (1991). Most blamed industrial pollution for the bay's ills.

Believes in integrated neighborhoods but doesn't live in one.

Nearly two-thirds of Marylanders surveyed said "in the long run" blacks and whites were "better off . . . living in the same neighborhoods with each other" (1992). But most Marylanders live in neighborhoods that are at least 90 percent members of their own race.

Dies of heart disease at the age of 73.

Heart disease is by far the No. 1 cause of death in Maryland, followed in order by cancer, stroke, accidents (chiefly motor vehicle crashes, falls, fires, drownings, medical misadventures, choking and poisoning), lung disease, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, septicimia (blood poisoning), homicide, suicide, kidney disease, liver disease, perinatal conditions (infant deaths) and AIDS (1989). Life expectancy for Marylanders was 73.3 years, 69.7 for men and 76.8 for women.

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