How Transient Are Washingtonians?

With a talented new quarterback and a baseball team in the major league playoffs for the first time since 1933, Washington sports are getting a lot of attention recently. But in commenting on the state of Washington sports culture, a lot of writers assert that DC is apathetic towards its team because the population is so transient. But how transient is DC?

The Census shows that in some ways the conventional wisdom is correct, but there’s not necessarily a correlation between a transient population and a lack of local fervor:

According to the Census, of DC’s population, 9.1% lived in another state the year before. How does that compare with other sports towns?:

  • DC – 9.1%
  • Boston (Suffolk County) – 5.9%
  • Philadelphia – 3.2%
  • Atlanta – 4.8%
  • Chicago – 3.2%
  • Baltimore City – 3.0%
  • New York City – 2.8%
    • Manhattan – 6.2%

So of these cities, DC is far and away the highest. However, it’s worth noting, before going on, that this is not necessarily an apples-to-apples analysis. If someone moved from Arlington to DC, that would be captured whereas if someone were to move from Buffalo to Broadway, it wouldn’t.

That caveat aside, it’s surprising to see what cities are higher on that list. Boston has the second highest, yet GM thinks of the Hub as maybe the most parochial town on the list. Notice also how much higher Manhattan’s numbers are compare with NYC as a whole. Not surprisingly the most urban part of New York has the most new residents.

Now consider the same cities but also include residents who moved from a different county within the same state. The numbers (with the obviously exception of DC’s) jump up:

  • DC – 9.1%
  • Boston – 10.0%
  • Philadelphia – 4.6%
  • Atlanta – 11.0%
  • Chicago – 4.1%
  • Baltimore – 6.7%
  • New York City – 4.9%
    • Manhattan – 9.1%

This demonstrates that these other cities are often the destination of regional migrants. Sportswise, these new arrivals probably already rooted for their new home team. But if the criticism of DC is that too many residents have only just arrived to the city itself, it’s got plenty of company.

When you look just at 25-34 year olds–the prime ages of migration–the respective positions are similar, but the numbers are much higher:

  • DC – 16.9%
  • Boston – 14.0%
  • Philadelphia – 8.1%
  • Atlanta – 15.2%
  • Chicago – 7.5%
  • Baltimore – 11.7%
  • New York City – 9.2%
    • Manhattan – 14.6%

By middle age, however, DC residents are positively planted. Here are the numbers for 35-44 year olds:

  • DC – 5.3%
  • Boston – 7.0%
  • Philadelphia – 3.1%
  • Atlanta – 8.8%
  • Chicago – 2.9%
  • Baltimore – 6.2%
  • New York City – 5.3%
    • Manhattan – 5.1%

So in general it is correct to say that DC has a higher transplanted population than other cities. But as the example of Boston demonstrates, there’s not necessarily a correlation between transplants and a lack of a parochial esprit de corps. If in fact DC lacks such cohesion, don’t blame it on the new residents.

Oh and because this is a Georgetown blog, here’s the number for Georgetown: 12.4%

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1 Comment

Filed under Demographics

One response to “How Transient Are Washingtonians?

  1. Pingback: Just because Al Horford lived in Atlanta doesn’t mean he wants the Falcons to win the Super Bowl – 247 News Online

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