Census reflects age, race changes More elderly, kids in Balto. Co.; Asian, Hispanic numbers increase statewide.


Do you remember when two-thirds of the houses in Howard and Carroll counties cost less than $100,000? When 62 percent of apartment rents were $250 or less in Baltimore County?

How about when married couples composed 68 percent of all families in Anne Arundel County, or when Harford County homes costing $200,000 or more could be counted on fingers and toes?

It was only a decade ago -- 1980 -- the year Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States.

But, you sputter, you know about all the changes that have taken place since the last national census. There have been endless news stories about the rising cost of housing, the rising divorce rate, the new baby boomlet, and the increasing number of older Americans.

It's still startling to see in print what a mere 10 years has wrought.

The census offers graphic proof of how Baltimore County is aging. While the county's overall population increased only 5 percent, the number of people 65 to 74 years old has increased 36 percent.

At the same time, the number of children under 5 years old rose 32 percent.

The census also captured the inflation of the early 1980s, and the suburban real estate boom.

The proportion of homes valued at less than $100,000 in Carroll County dropped from two-thirds in 1980 to just under one-forth in 1990.

Meanwhile, homes valued at $150,000 to $200,000 increasefrom virtually none in 1980 to 20 percent last year.

The census didn't even bother keeping figures on over-$300,000 homes in 1980. In 1990 they made up 8.6 percent of the total in Howard County, 1.2 percent in Harford, 1.3 percent in Carroll, 4.1 percent in Baltimore County, and 1.1 percent in Baltimore.

A decade of change in the metropolitan area's urban hub, the city, is even more startling.

In 1980, 88 percent of Baltimore's homes were valued at less than $50,000. In 1990, that percentage had shrunk to 42.5. Ninety percent of rents in the city in 1980 were $250 or less, the census says, compared with only 29 percent in 1990.

The number of city households populated by two or more unrelated people rose 29 percent while families headed by married couples in Baltimore dropped from 40 to 33 percent of the total population.

A major population change has occurred in Baltimore County, where the number of blacks increased by 66 percent in 10 years, jumping from 7.7 to 11.3 percent of the total county population.

People of Hispanic and Asian heritage also have increased their numbers dramatically, although they are still a small proportion of the population. In Baltimore County, the Hispanic population is up 93 percent and the Asian-American population is up by 86 percent. Statewide, the number of Hispanics increased by 86 percent and Asian-Americans by 117 percent.

Still, that 117 percent represents only 75,441 more people in a state of 4.8 million.

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