DC’s Disappearing Children

by UrbanTurf Staff

DC's Disappearing Children: Figure 1

More evidence came last week that DC is becoming a land of singles.

In a post about the future of cities, The Urbanophile included a chart that ranked U.S. cities with the lowest percentage of children relative to total population. DC ranked 4th lowest with 100,815 children or 16.8 percent of the total population.

From The Urbanophile:

Of the 61 municipalities in 2010 that had 300,000 or more people, it should come as no surprise that San Francisco ranked dead last in percentage of children at 13.4%. The bottom ten is heavily populated by an urbanist who’s who, including Seattle, Washington, Boston, Portland, and Minneapolis. With places like Manhattan and Washington dominated by singles and people living alone, it should come as no surprise that their lifestyle needs take center stage in defining what it is cities should be about.

This is just the latest piece of news that reveals the shrinking population of children in DC. Last September, a report stated that sales of homes smaller than 800 square feet skyrocketed between August 2012 and August 2013 in the city. Shortly before that, another report found that the number of single tax-filers in the District increased 38 percent between 2001 and 2011; of the new residents filing taxes in the city for the first time during that period, 87.5 percent were single.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_has_4th_lowest_children_population_in_u.s/8000


  1. Joy Phillips said at 10:32 pm on Wednesday January 15, 2014:
    Since 2010 the District's under 18 numbers have inched upwards to 107,642 in July 2012, and all indicators point to a further increase in the 2013 estimates due for release next week. Hence, DC's children are reappearing and contributing significantly to the tremendous population growth.
  1. Logan Res said at 11:10 pm on Wednesday January 15, 2014:
    Joy, That still comes in at about 16% of the city's population, which would put it in the lowest percentage in the country. I live in Logan and have seen three of my couple friends who have school-aged kids leave the city. I love DC and my neighborhood, but the exodus will continue until the schools get better.
  1. saladman8283 said at 12:03 am on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    Logan Res, you are right on the money. I was one of those families who left. It would be interesting to see how many of those kids are pre-K versus K and older. My hunch is that the slight uptick is due more to pre-school age kids.
  1. jag said at 2:33 am on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    Agree that schools and crime (and green space and noise/air pollution, to a lesser extent) are still big enough issues in most DC neighborhoods that most with the financial means to do so will move to MD/VA when children come along. I suspect the majority will move to first-ring suburbs in order to maintain walkable/transit accessible lifestyles.
  1. roots said at 3:16 am on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    Schools are issue #1, #2, and #3. Was for our family. Didn't have anything to do with not being able to afford it, had everything to do with why would I spend $20-30k to send my kid to kindergarten at a private D.C. school? Silliness.
  1. Bernardo said at 3:27 am on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    Agreed with some posters above. I also live in the city and have a 1 year old. I want to stay in DC for the long run, but schools are too important to think about buying a house in the district.
  1. NOMA res said at 1:54 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    According to the Census Bureau's population estimates, there were actually 109,480 people under the age of 18 in DC as of July 1, 2012 (http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/PEP/2012/PEPAGESEX/0400000US11). This table also shows that the percent of DC's total population that was under 18 is on the rise, albeit slightly, from 16.7% as of April 1, 2010 to 17.3% as of July 1, 2012.
  1. adam said at 3:38 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    NOMA, interesting chart. There are clear gains in the 0-5 and 5-13 set, and a slight drop in the 14-17 set.
  1. CapitolHill said at 3:54 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    It's a Catch-22 isn't it? A significant population of middle-class families won't stay until the schools get better, but the schools won't get better until a significant population of middle-class families stay. It's a collective-action problem; if everyone stayed, the schools would improve rapidly. But families generally can't be assured of everyone else's cooperation, and no one wants to be the pioneer. In Capitol Hill, groups like MOTH (Moms On The Hill) have helped make great progress in the schools by fostering solidarity among local families and giving them that assurance. Perhaps that can be replicated elsewhere.
  1. CommonDenominator said at 4:18 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    Just to offer a different perspective, I have been (more than) pleased with Lafayette ES and Deal JHS. I hear good things about Murch, Janney, Shepherd (Shepherd solid feeds Deal for now) and the elementary school on The Hill, name escapes me. I also have neighbors who are pleased with 'Latin,' Two Rivers (solid) and Cap City charter schools (I think these charters all run through at least junior high). Public options weaken at JHS level, DEAL > others. High school - Wilson (+ building + good principal - crowded) SWoW ( + great location + classes @ GW option – few slots) , Banneker (+principal - old building -/+ not ‘diverse’ on its face, but has kids with roots in many different countries) Of course you have to live in Ward 3 or risk the charter school / out-of-boundary lotteries so there are no guarantees. There few if any lottery spots at Ward 3 schools. (Note: You have to apply / test to attend SWoW and Banneker)
  1. DMVist said at 5:06 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    People seem to think that having a low percentage of children in the city is a bad thing, however what they forget is that children don't pay taxes yet consume one of the biggest amounts of tax revenue. The less kids we have in the city the more money we have to dedicate to improving the existing schools. Rather than advocating for an increased quantity of children, I'd rather have improved quality of children.
  1. Anacostia Annie said at 6:24 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    The District spends about $1.8 billion in local funds on education and related services for children in Pre-K through high school. That's a lot of money spent for such little return on investment.
  1. adam said at 11:37 pm on Thursday January 16, 2014:
    "People seem to think that having a low percentage of children in the city is a bad thing, however what they forget is that children don’t pay taxes yet consume one of the biggest amounts of tax revenue." But their parents sure pay taxes. I just got my and my wife's W-2's today- well over $35k withheld in DC income taxes. And that's not counting property taxes and sales taxes. That tax money is moving to Virginia next year because DC's schools stink. Multiply that by all the other 30-somethings in the same situation hitting their peak earning years, and you suddenly have some serious tax money being lost.

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