Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Aging

It sometimes feels like Brooklyn is overrun by families with very young children, especially in areas within walking distance of Prospect Park. And the fact that many more restaurants and bars in those neighborhoods are now catering to the stroller set has not gone unnoticed.

But, believe it or not, despite your complaints about the kids at the next table, Brooklyn is not getting younger. In fact, according to new Census Bureau data, Kings County — which we know simply as "Brooklyn" — has been steadily aging over the past four years, while still boasting one of the youngest populations among the state's 62 counties. On the other hand, the Bronx, or more precisely Bronx County, is the third youngest county in the state, with a median age of 33.4. Kings County comes fourth with a median age of 34.6. A simpler way to read this data would be to say that the Bronx is the youngest borough in the city.

The youngest county in the state is Tompkins County in upstate New York, where the city of Ithaca is located (home to Cornell University), with a median age of 30. Jefferson County, which abuts the St. Lawrence River that separates New York from Canada, is next, with a median age of 31.7.

The other three counties in New York City are also on the young side: The median age in Manhattan (or New York County) is 36.8 — good for seventh youngest in the state; Queens County is tenth with a median age of 37.9; and in Staten Island (a/k/a Richmond County), the median age is 39.5.  

Somewhat surprisingly, the New York metropolitan area has been getting older in recent years, despite its grip on the state's youngest-counties list.

In 2010 the census data showed the median age in the Bronx was 32.9. One of the reasons that population is so young is because the male population in the Bronx skews young, with a median age in 2010 of 30.6 — 31.2 today. The female population has remained steady, at around 35 years of age, over the past four years.

Ben Bolender, a population expert with the U.S. Census Bureau, says migration also has something to do with the Bronx’s demographics. He points to the higher fertility rate among minority women as one of the biggest factors. Because the Bronx is 89.8 percent minority — 54.8 percent Hispanic and 46.3 percent black — Bolender believes the births-vs.-deaths ratio plays a big part in the county’s demographics.

“A lot of the trends that you see in the counties are pretty much continuations of longer trends,” Bolender tells the Voice. “The Bronx is getting older, but there are a lot more minority populations in the Bronx than a lot of other parts of the country. It’s almost 90 percent minority, so I would expect that to be reflected in fertility rates as well.”

Though the Census Bureau doesn’t release county-by-county data for births and deaths, at last count, there were nearly 62,000 more deaths of non-Hispanic whites between July 2013 and 2014 than there were births in the United States. And the agency reported last week that there are now more minority children under five than non-Hispanic white children.

“You can tell from our national numbers that the overall trend in that non-Hispanic white fertility hasn’t been keeping pace with deaths for a few years, so there’s a natural decrease in the population,” Bolender says. “Whereas for all the other groups, they just have more births than deaths. So my guess is that’s contributing somewhat to what’s going on in the Bronx.”

New York City has been majority minority since 2010, according to census data. The minority population in the New York metro area is 67.5 percent for all five boroughs and including Jersey City and Newark, Bolender says.

Though Bronx County is younger than Kings, you’re right about the kids in Brooklyn — there are more children under five years old in Kings County than in any of the other four counties of New York City. There are nearly 612,000 children under five there, to the Bronx’s nearly 370,000. But because Kings County has nearly a million more residents, Bronx County comes out slightly younger.

Kings County is 36.6 percent black, 35.8 percent white, 19.5 percent Hispanic, and 13 percent Asian. Though it’s unclear what the demographics of the county will look like four years from now, a 2012 report by Michael J. Petrilli, president of the education policy think tank the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found that Brooklyn has four of the fastest-gentrifying zip codes in the country. Thanks to Gizmodo, you can take a look at how individual streets in Brooklyn have changed over the years.


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