New census data reveals shifts in lifestyle traits
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2011 8:01 pm
By PINKY MEHTA
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — New census data shows that changes in the Kentucky population over the last decade mirror that of the nation, with residents becoming older, living in less traditional households, renting rather than owning and becoming more diverse.
The numbers made public recently for 13 states were the first in-depth numbers on general population and housing released for the 2010 census.
“As the country ages, there are many aspects of life that are greatly affected by community patterns, like health and medical services. That is the case not only for Kentucky but for the rest of the country,” said Martin O’Connell, chief of the fertility and family statistics branch at the U.S. Census Bureau. “Looking at structures of households … may give policy makers a clear idea of their issues and needs over the coming decade.”
Total population for Kentucky rose to 4,339,357, a 7.4 percent increase. Women in Kentucky tend to be older than men, though the average ages for both sexes increased, with the average age of women at 39.3 and men at 36.7.
The median age of Kentuckians increased from 35.9 in 2000 to 38.1 in 2010, according to the figures.
Those living in traditional husband-wife households decreased 4.6 percent to less than half the population at 49.3 percent.
The number of Kentuckians who rent rather than own slightly increased to 31.3 percent from 29.2 percent. The figures show 68.7 of Kentuckians own their homes, down from 70.8 percent in 2000.
Glenn Blomquist, a University of Kentucky economics professor, attributed the decrease in home ownership to an increase in mortgage defaults but said it is important to put the figures in context.
“The year 2000 is coming right after the period of the 1990s, which was a period of unprecedented economic growth in the U.S. … Then things start to flatten out in the 2000s. Then of course we have the recession. My point being is that 2000 is kind of a high-water mark,” Blomquist said.
Meanwhile, those living in traditional husband-wife households went down 4.6 percent, from 53.9 percent of the population in 2000 to 49.3 percent of Kentuckians in 2010.
Non-family households also increased, rising 2.5 percent from 30.6 percent in 2000 to 33.1 percent in 2010.
“I think that it’s part of a continuing trend,” said Laurie Rhodebeck, professor of political science at the University of Louisville, pointing to increasing economic independence of women, delayed marriages and more single parents among the younger population.
Rhodebeck said lying behind the hard numbers are subjective societal norms that have evolved to include unmarried couples of all kinds residing under one roof.
“Greater acceptance — that includes male-female families, gay male families, lesbian families. There’s just increased openness and acceptance of those kinds of arrangements,” Rhodebeck said.
Regarding race, the percentage of people who identified themselves as white in Kentucky dipped from 90.1 percent in 2000 to 87.8 percent in 2010. The Hispanic population, though a relatively small portion of Kentuckians — 3.1 percent of the total population in 2010 — more than doubled in size from 59,939 in 2000 to 132,836 in 2010. Also, those identifying themselves as being “two or more races” increased from 42,443 or 1 percent of the population in 2000, to 75,208 or 1.7 percent of the population in 2010.
Published in The Messenger 5.16.11