NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Surprises In 20th Century Population Trends

December 18, 2002

An analysis of demographic trends in the U.S. from 1900 to 2000, conducted by the Census Bureau, yields some interesting data.

In 1900, most of the U.S. population consisted of men, under age 23, who mostly rented homes outside metropolitan areas. Nearly half of them lived with five or more persons.

Today, most of the population is female, at least age 35, who own homes mostly in cities or suburbs. Most live alone or with one or two other persons.

Here are a few observations from the report, "Demographic Trends in the 20th Century."

  • The U.S. population grew by more than 205 million over the century -- almost quadrupling from 76 million to 281 million.
  • The geographic population center shifted 324 miles west and 101 miles south -- from Bartholomew County, Ind. to Phelps County, Mo.
  • Florida's population rose more than that of any other state, from 33rd to fourth place -- while Iowa's population ranking plummeted from 10th in the nation to 30th from 1900 to 2000.
  • One in eight U.S. residence was of a race other than white in 1900 -- but by 2000, the ratio was one-in-four.

The black population increased steadily from 8.8 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000 -- while the Hispanic population more than doubled between 1980 and 2000, from 14.6 million to 35.3 million in 2000.

The country crossed over from a predominantly male population to a predominantly female population in the 1950 census. Between 1950 and 2000, married-couple households declined from more than three-fourths of all households to just more than one-half.

Source: Ellen Sorokin, "Census Finds U.S. Is Older, More Female," Washington Times, December 18, 2002.


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