Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Going Solo

More of us are living alone or in homes headed by a single parent, according to new Census estimates cited in this WaPo story.

The data helps inform some of the conversation of late about Columbia redevelopment, don't you think?

Demographers said several factors, some going back decades, are fueling the rise in one-person households.

In some counties, such as Prince William or Fairfax, aging baby boomers are staying in place after their spouses have died, or they are moving to developments catering to seniors. In addition, close-in suburbs have encouraged the growth of high-density residential neighborhoods, dominated by condominiums, apartments and townhouses that appeal to young people.

"Generation Y wants to be in urban-lite locations," said Rollin Stanley, director of planning for Montgomery County. "As Washington has become an increasingly popular place to live and prices have increased, a lot are moving into the first suburbs, like us, to find more affordable housing close to transit."

Others said the phenomenon owes more to changes in society, with diminished stigma attached to living alone, either temporarily or for a lifetime.

"The last couple of decades have seen the emergence of a new life stage sociologists call 'early adulthood,' " said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University who has studied families. "It's when young people are finishing their education, investing in careers, living on their own and postponing marriage. Washington is the nation's exemplar of that trend."

Here's a link to a chart showing the change, and Howard compares to other counties.

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