One Group Leaving RI: Young, Single, and College Educated

A perennial point of debate in Rhode Island has been the question of just who is leaving.  Some worry that the wealthy have been or are considering fleeing, and the opposing side declares that possibility a myth (while offering no alternative explanation for population loss).  I’ve long argued that the “productive class” (upwardly mobile and motivated working-to-middle-class families) has been a critical demographic seeking to escape RI.

A report just released by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that a demographic group that has definitely been leaving Rhode Island — without cessation from 1965 to 2000 — is made up of those who are young, single, and college educated.  As the following graphic from the report shows, during no examined period did the number of single, college-educated Rhode Islanders between the ages of 25 and 39 increase.

That makes Rhode Island one of twenty-two “consistent decliners” designated by the report.

Domestic Migration of the Young, Single, College-Educated Population by State: 1965 to 2000

In general, across the country, this demographic group has been uniquely drawn to more-urban areas.  Young, single college graduates are approximately twenty percentage points more likely to move to urban areas than migrants overall.

Through the 1990 Census, young adults of all family types and education levels were on the rise, but by 2000, the trend had begun to reverse.  College educated categories held their numbers a little better, with single, college educated Americans continuing to gain ground slightly.  Many more young adults are married, regardless of education, but the gap has been narrowing.

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