High-end off-campus student housing under construction in Charlottesville near UVA. Though a one bedroom apartment could cost $1400 a month, the residents these apartments will be marketed to may still report income levels below the poverty line.

In our latest Census Brief, Poverty and postsecondary students in college towns, we discuss why it’s important for college towns to take undergraduate and graduate students into account when looking at community poverty. While poverty estimates explicitly exclude people living in group housing—such as dorms, correctional facilities, or residential nursing homes—these calculations do include college or graduate students who live in off-campus housing. Because many post-secondary students have low incomes, they may contribute to high poverty rates in the areas where they live. As a result, we often see inflated poverty numbers in college towns.

However, it is not enough for localities to explain away high poverty rates by suggesting that they are caused only by the presence of college students. Many college towns have pervasive community poverty that is only somewhat increased by the included off-campus students. Local leaders interested in making informed decisions about combatting poverty, particularly in localities with high populations of post-secondary students, should take a closer look at how much student poverty influences the overall rate.

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Hillary Clinton won a majority in the Virginia Democratic primary on March 1st, while Donald Trump took a plurality of voters in the Republican primary. The Republican primary generated record voter turnout. Nearly 4 times as many votes were cast in the 2016 Republican primary as in the 2012 primary.

Below are a series of maps showing the percentage of the vote captured across the Commonwealth by each candidate.

Donald Trump dominated Southwest Virginia and many other rural counties, but still received a substantial portion of his votes from urban areas, especially Hampton Roads. His best county was Buchanan, which gave him nearly 70% of its votes. His worst county was Falls Church, with just under 16%.

Trump

Marco Rubio’s strong counties were roughly opposite to Trump’s. Rubio took nearly 50% of the vote in Arlington County, with Alexandria, Charlottesville, and Richmond close behind. He performed worst in the southwest corner of the state, taking less than 14% in Buchanan County. Read Full Article →
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Loudoun County, in Northern Virginia’s outer suburbs, was Virginia’s fastest growing locality in the 1990s and 2000s, nearly doubling its population each decade. Population growth in Loudoun, as in much of Virginia during the two decades was fueled by people moving out to newly built subdivisions on the edges of the commonwealth’s largest metro areas. Though Loudoun remains the fastest growing locality in the state, according to the 2015 population estimates released today by the Weldon Cooper Center’s Demographics Research Group, its growth has slowed considerably.

 

Several images from Google Street View were embedded in this post to show how different places in Virginia have changed in recent years. The first image is from before 2010 and the second image is of the same place more recently. All of the images are interactive, so you can scroll left and right or zoom to explore. 

Ashburn, Loudoun County

                                                                     2008                                                                                   

2014

 

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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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