UVA demographic researchers made some fascinating graphs of demographic divides in the Washington area which show what we know is happening: more affluent and educated people are moving farther east in the region, and young people are living near the center more than ever.
The researchers, from the University of Virginia Cooper Center’s Demographics Research Group, looked at the populations within 5, 10, 15, and 20 miles of the White House and how they compare on the eastern half and western half of our region.
The percentage of people with graduate and professional degrees used to drop very sharply between west and east (the white line). It has increased all across the region, but most of all in the center (mostly DC and Arlington). And the drop-off has become far less steep, reflecting how many highly-educated people have been moving into neighborhoods on the east side of DC and places like Silver Spring.
The same applies for income. Notice how the lowest point for both advanced degrees and income are not at the places farthest from the core in the east, but places about 5-15 miles — mostly Prince George’s County on either side of the Beltway, where the older communities are. More educated and affluent people have leapfrogged that area to more exurban places.
There’s a little bit of that effect on the west side, but far less; there, the people with the most education and means generally want to live closer to the center, and that trend is growing stronger.
Young people don’t seem to care that much about the east-west divide — or many simply can’t afford to live in the more expensive west. People in their 20s always were most concentrated in the core, but that trend has also strengthened a lot, with places more than about 4 miles from the center having a smaller share of 20-somethings in 2012 than in 1990.
Meanwhile, the east-west imbalance has disappeared, or even slightly reversed itself, as younger people moved into more affordable neighborhoods east of 16th Street in DC.