VA Map Density

Here is a fun map showing the distribution of people across Virginia by the density of their census tract. Each color represents one third of the total population. For the purposes of this post, I’ll refer to them as the “densest third,” the “middle third,” and the “sparsest third.” I’m tempted to call them the “urban third,” the “suburban third,” and the “rural third,” but the cutoffs are arbitrary and those names aren’t entirely accurate. It’s probably more accurate to talk about 25% of the population living in “urban” neighborhoods and 25% living in rural areas, with a “suburban half” in between.

The “densest third” live on approximately 1.2% of the state’s land area. The “middle third” occupy about 4% and the “sparsest third” occupy the remaining 94.8%. It’s obvious from the map how Virginia’s explosive population growth over the past few decades has been concentrated in its three major metro areas: Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads.

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When George Murdock introduced the phrase “nuclear family,” (meaning a married couple with children) into the American lexicon during the 1950s, nuclear families made up the majority of U.S. households. But in the decades since the 1950s, nuclear families’ dominance has gradually slipped. Today, nuclear families make up less than a quarter of all households, while living alone has become the most common type of household. Though the decline of nuclear families has been widely discussed, it will likely have a number of tangible effects, particularly on housing demand.

The life of the typical adult American

Life

Chart data was calculated from Census surveys using IPUMS, University of Minnesota, as well as from Center of Disease Control vital statistics data.

The decline of the nuclear family is in large part due to changes in the way we live. In 1960, the typical American married at age 21 and became a parent within a year. Today, the typical American marries considerably later at 28 and doesn’t have children until age 30. In addition, while the average retirement age has not changed, the typical American lives a decade longer after retirement today than they did in 1960.

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The newly released 2010-2014 ACS 5-year estimate data includes information on how people get to work. Like most other Americans, Virginians across all age and income groups are overwhelmingly likely to get to work by driving a motor vehicle alone. Workers living below poverty level are slightly more likely to take other modes of transportation, as are younger workers.

By Poverty

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When people begin house hunting, one of the most commonDC Test Scores and Home Value criteria they consider is the quality of the local school district, not just for the sake of their children but also because schools often influence home values. The District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis recently mapped the standardized test results of each DC elementary school and found a strong correlation between test scores and home values. In Virginia, divisions with high Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores, such as Falls Church and Arlington, have attracted a disproportionate amount of their metro area’s population growth in recent years.

Since the Virginia Department of Education provides the SOL test results by school, it was relatively easy to map out the average SOL test pass rates by school in the interactive map below.

Virginia 2014-2015 SOL Pass Rates by School


View larger map

To see results for individual schools or to explore the map, open a full page version of the interactive map using the link above.

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One of the most popular television shows in recent years has been ABC’s “Modern Family.” The show is popular not only because of its good script and characters, but also because it includes subjects such as divorce, step-children and same sex marriage, which are familiar to many families today. Yet Census data shows that the families in the sitcom – each household made up of two married parents with children—is actually more like those in the 1950s than how most Americans live today.

*Data is from the U.S. Decennial Census and was tabulated using IPUMS, University of Minnesota

In 1950, over half of all households consisted of two married parents with children. By 2014 that portion had declined to less than a quarter of U.S. households. The actual number of households with two spouses and children was smaller in 2014 than in 1980, despite the total U.S. population growing by over 40 percent during the period. Given the scale of the change, the decline in family households is arguably one of the most significant demographic trends over the past few decades.

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“As though the New Jersey suburbs were grafted onto South Carolina” is how Robert Lang of Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute described Northern Virginia. Of course that’s a bit of a hyperbole. Even at the time of the Civil War, Virginia was one of the least “Southern” members of the Confederacy. Today, the entire state bears the marks of a massive post-1960’s influx of migrants from other parts of the country, while other regions have also developed their own character. But Northern Virginia continues to be one of the most unique (and economically important) areas of the Commonwealth.

Mapping a region is difficult and controversial. Recently Aaron Renn posted about 12 ways to map the Midwest. FiveThirtyEight took a look at which states are in the South. Working in the same vein, I’d like to look at several ways to map “Northern Virginia.”

1. Lord Fairfax’s land grant

Northern Virginia as a distinct region actually predates the founding of Washington, DC. In 1649, Charles II (then in exile) gave all the land between the Rappahannock and the Potomac to seven Englishmen who had supported him faithfully during the English Civil War.

Image source: http://www.virginiaplaces.org/settleland/fairfaxgrant.html

Lord Culpeper eventually gained 5/6th of the shares of the grant, which he passed to his daughter, who married Lord Fairfax in 1690. Lord Fairfax bought out the final share from Baron Arlington (lots of familiar names here) and the grant was consolidated under his name. Throughout the colonial era, the grant caused problems between Lord Fairfax and the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg. The ability to grant property and collect fees was a significant source of revenue and authority at the time. Lord Fairfax successfully preserved his claim over the grant against the claims of the House of Burgesses. Land ownership records for northern Virginia were maintained in a separate land office up until the Civil War, when they were finally consolidated in Richmond. Fairfax’s control meant that a very different group of settlers were able to get pieces of Northern Virginia than those who went through the colony government further south.

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Women in the Workforce

More career women means more two-career couples

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One of the biggest economic stories of the last half-century has been the growing participation of women in the workforce. And it’s not just the number of women working that’s important; it’s the type of work they are doing. We’ve moved rapidly from a time when a working woman’s options were: “teacher, nurse, or secretary” to a time when more women are getting advanced degrees in a full spectrum of specialized fields.

At the same time – and not unrelatedly – people are increasingly likely to marry someone with a comparable level of education. Consider how common it is for physicians to pair off with other physicians, engineers to marry lawyers, computer programmers to join romantic forces with data analysts, and for academics to [wedding] band together. The end result is that educated couples tend to have two expert, specialized skill sets to bring to the labor force.

Research suggests that couples are more likely to privilege a male partner’s job when choosing a place to live, a phenomenon that many have chalked up to traditional social norms, expectations about child-rearing, or sexism. However, a recent study by demographer Alan Benson found that it was simply a result of men’s concentration in more specialized (and geographically clustered) careers, compared with women’s historical participation in less specialized “support” jobs or geographically flexible fields like teaching and healthcare. In fact, when controlling for occupation, couples are just as likely to move for the woman’s job. Given Americans’ notorious willingness to move across the country for work (Alexis de Tocqueville noted this all the way back in the 1830’s), many highly-educated couples face tough choices about geography as they try to juggle two specialized careers that are – very literally – going in different directions.

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The Most Popular College Football Teams on Facebook

ncaa-fb-va-map

Produced by the New York Times’ Upshot Blog

According to the New York Times’ analysis of the number of “likes” it receives on Facebook, Virginia Tech has easily the most popular football team in Virginia, but among undergraduate applicants, Virginia Tech is not nearly as popular a choice. Data from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia reveals the most popular college to attend for each of Virginia’s counties.

The Most Popular College to Attend for each of Virginia’s Counties

Universities

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Locality Data

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During the decades since the second World War, Virginia’s population has been one of the fastest growing among states on the east coast. Much of Virginia’s growth was fueled by an influx of migrants coming down the BosWash corridor from the Northeast into Virginia as well as from the Mid-West. In 1940, only 5 percent of Virginia’s population was born north of the Mason-Dixon line, but by 1990 the portion had grown to 18 percent of all Virginians. Migration into Virginia was so consistent that during the entire 20+ year period that the I.R.S. has migration data available, Virginia always had more people moving in than out.

IRS Migration Data

IRS Migration Data

However, last month the I.R.S. released migration data for 2012 and 2013 showing that this trend may have come to an end. After having slightly more households move into the state than out in 2012, Virginia had over 3,000 more households leave the state in 2013 than moved in. I.R.S. data is particularly useful for examining these year to year migration changes since it’s based on administrative income tax data (which tracks the filers’ addresses) rather than surveys which can have high margins of error. Read Full Article →

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The Census Bureau recently released new migration data based on the 2009-2013 5-year American Community Survey estimates. This data estimates how many people move between each of the country’s metropolitan areas over the course of a year.

There are plenty of interesting things that can be teased out of this data, but flow data is always a little bulky to play with. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog put up a great chart showing migration between the country’s largest metro areas:

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