Tag: demographics

Where Do Marylanders Come From?



Screen shot 2014-08-17 at 10.29.36 PMIt’s common wisdom that immigration patterns have changed dramatically over the past 100 years–but those changes vary greatly from state to state. While many states have seen an influx of residents from other states, others are seeing much less in-migration. For example, in 1900, only 55 percent of Massachusetts residents had been born in the state; by 2012, the state’s residents were 63 percent Massachusetts-born.

This data comes from a fascinating interactive story from the New York Times, which minutely traces each state’s patterns of migration. So what of Maryland?

What Your Baltimore Zip Code Says About You



Mt. Washington residents are likely to have an active relationship with their financial advisors, while Hampdenites probably read Vanity Fair and like to go backpacking. Sound reasonable? Those demographic descriptions come right from market research company Nielsen, which does a lot more than just determine how many people watched a particular TV show. As part of their market-research system, they’ve sorted Americans into 66 demographic categories, from “Bohemian Mix” to “New Money” to “Power Couples.”

The ratings are based on data like consumer spending, household composition, and median age. But they also get way more personal, describing hobbies and lifestyle choices and even music preferences. We looked up a bunch of Baltimore-area zip codes to see if their system makes sense; find yours below, and let us know if it rings true!

This Week in Research: Vinyl NOT Better Than CDs?; Immigration Good for MD


Anyone who’s ever known (or, worse, dated) a music snob knows the old refrain:  music on vinyl just sounds more authentic. Let them rhapsodize on and it’ll start to sound as though you’re discussing fine wine — LPs have a sound that’s rich, deep, velvety, full. But hold on a second. Scott Metcalfe is someone who should know — he’s the director of recording arts and sciences at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins. And he says he “definitely” prefers CDs. It turns out that the physical limitations of vinyl — its grooves and pre-set disc size — mean that dynamic range often gets reduced. CDs are, simply put, a more useful technology for capturing a wide range of sounds and frequencies. But what about vinyl’s much-vaunted “depth”? Metcalfe has an answer to that:  “In some cases, the depth of field, the depth of sound that people talk about, enjoying about vinyl that they say is missing from the CD may, in fact, be a result of the compression to make that old recording more competitive for the modern market.” And CDs trump even MP3s, Metcalfe says — “there’s a loss of depth of field in a smaller format… Occasionally, I’ll hear somebody playing, you know, through a PA system at a party or, you know, a reception or something from an MP3, and it’s almost painful for me to listen to” However, Metcalfe does grant that old-fashioned records do allow for a more ritualistic listening experience.

Meanwhile, over at the University of Maryland researchers have found that the state’s immigrant population makes a substantial contribution to our economy, especially in the science, information, and medical fields. (Twenty-seven percent of the state’s scientists are foreign-born!) Which is good news, as more than half of the growth in the state’s workforce was due to foreign-born workers. (The national average was 45 percent; in Maryland, it was a full 57 percent.) Nearly 14 percent of the state’s population is foreign-born, which is slightly less than Texas, but more than Arizona and Virginia, and about one-third of those live in or around Baltimore. According to the study, immigrants tend to be clustered either in high-income groups or low-income groups, which is one reason they’re a boon to the economy — they complement the pre-existing labor force. The relatively unskilled immigrant labor force, which is concentrated in the agriculture, seafood, construction, personal services, and tourism industries, also helps out:  “Without the influx of foreign-born workers, expansion in these labor-intensive industries would have been choked off, increasing prices and discouraging growth across the economy,” the report says. In all, the study’s authors urge lawmakers to think twice about leaving immigrants and their children out of education and state services plans: “Most of foreign-born young people in Maryland, regardless of [legal] status, will make up a substantial part of the productive, tax-paying work force in a few short years. We will also depend on them to be informed voters and capable leaders so we can maintain strong and dynamic communities throughout the state of Maryland.”

Baltimore’s Changing Demographics: Not What You Might Think


Looked at broadly, Baltimore’s recent history is one of dwindling population; the city has lost more than 20 percent of its residents since 1980.  But as anyone who actually lives here knows, that statistic masks a much more complicated reality.

As part of their program, students in the Master of Public Policy program at Johns Hopkins’s Institute for Policy Studies have peeked below the surface and found some interesting facts about race, ethnicity, and geography in our city. For one, the racial makeup of the city has changed. In 1980, the majority of Baltimore neighborhoods (54 percent) were predominantly white; by 2000, only 28 percent were. But, as the students’ research found, it’s hardly just a story of black and white residents.  “We were intrigued by the prospect that our traditionally black and white city was also becoming more ethnically diverse, and all that might imply,” said Sandra Newman, the professor who taught the course. And so the students looked for evidence of “integration among ethnically diverse residents both geographically and socially, and whether Hispanics and Asians are acting as ‘buffers’ between blacks and whites.” Some interesting neighborhood-based findings below:


  • Despite the net loss in population size, many neighborhoods have grown since 1980. A few notable ones:  Fells Point, Belair-Edison, Cross Country, Cheswolde, Coldspring, Falstaff, Sharp-Leadenhall, Otterbein, Loyola/Notre Dame and Roland Park.
  • Many neighborhoods saw a sharp decrease in white residents coupled with an increase in black residents. However, particular neighborhoods also saw sharp rises in other ethnic groups, including Hispanics (Upper Fells Point) and Asians (Tuscany-Canterbury and Roland Park).
  • Reversing the city’s trend, Otterbein more than doubled in size from 1980 to 2010.
  • Cheswolde, located in northwest Baltimore between Mount Washington and Fallstaff, has had a stable racial balance over the past 30 years — the neighborhood consistently hovers around 70 percent white and 30 percent black. Unusual for the city, there appear to be no spatially segregated racial enclaves. Does this mean that class matters more than race?
  • When the ethnic or racial makeup of a neighborhood changes, other changes — decline in median home prices and educational attainment — sometimes follow. Or that’s the traditional wisdom, at least. In many neighborhoods around town, including Coldspring, Northern Frankford, Cedmont, Loyola/Notre Dame and Cross Country, this was not the case.