For those of you still interested in learning more about the drop in Boston’s population, over the past five years, I direct you to two tables on the US Census Bureau’s website.

The first is their General Demographic Characteristics: 2004 table and the second is their General Demographic Characteristics: 2002 table.

It is interesting to compare the data in the two tables. Before you do so, however, remember, these are estimates of population; they are not the result of a census but are based on a sample and are subject to sampling variability. (Also, keep in mind that these estimates exclude the population living in institutions, college dormitories, and other group quarters, unlike the decennial censuses (censi?).)

What do the tables tell us?

Well, in two years, Boston’s estimated population dropped by 22,000, from 545,000 to 523,000 people. The Census estimates that the vast majority of the difference is in the number of women – from 291,000 to 272,000. Men, on the other hand, dropped by just two thousand, from 253,000 to 251,000.

How’d that happen? Why’d that happen? Can you draw any conclusions?

Age-wise, Boston lost 15,000 people in the 20-24 age group, and 7,000 people in the 25-34 age group. (There is a wide discrepancy in the age groups above this – for example, there was an increase of 4,000 people between 55-59 years of age, a drop of 4,000 people ages 60-64, an increase of 7,000 people between 75-84 years of age, and a decrease of 5,000 people over the age of 85. Is this data accurate, at all?)

Are those the only two pieces of information we need in order to draw conclusions?

Maybe not.

During those two years, the Census Bureau estimates that Boston lost 16,000 White people and 8,000 Black or African American people. They also estimate that Boston lost 6,000 people of Hispanic or Latino origin (mostly of Mexican descent). However, the city gained an estimated 5,000 Asian people, and about 2,000 people of other race and/or multiple races.

ADDED: Interesting to note: The Census Bureau estimates that the number of “family households” (which to them, apparently, means a married couple, with or without kids) decreased by 6,000 over the two years, although the number of families with kids under 18 stayed constant.

“Non-family households” increased by 13,000 – this is apparently couples living in sin, single people, etc. The vast majority of this increase, 12,000, was (were?) in people living alone, and of this, there were 4,000 more people over the age of 65 living alone, by 2004.

UPDATE: Here’s the bottom line, written much better than I ever could:

Property prices. The cost of living.

Ask anyone why people are fleeing Boston, and the answers are pretty predictable.

Trouble is, it isn’t that simple.

If you think real estate’s expensive here, try buying a condo in Chicago or New York.

And yet they’re not seeing anything like the same exodus.

If you simply compare salaries and costs, the nonprofit Council for Community and Economic Research finds people in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Miami are worse off than we are too.

But they’re not jamming the exits either.

So why did we lose 10,000 residents last year? Why do we lead the nation in losing people?

Consider this. In the past three years the U.S. has generated 4.4 million jobs.

Greater Boston is the nation’s seventh most populous metropolitan area. So how many do you think we created? One hundred thousand? Fifty?

Not even close.

We’ve actually lost a couple of thousand more – on top of all those we lost during the recession.

Read on for possible solutions and the complete picture.

The answer is very simple: Fewer jobs, fewer people – By Brett Arends, The Boston Herald

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Updated: January 2018

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