This post uses the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey 1 Year Estimates from 1970 to 2017 to examine changes in population, age, income, and the status of married couples in Arkansas and the United States.
Graph 1 shows that between 1970 and 1980 Arkansas’s population increased by 11.2%. The following decade saw a dramatic reduction in the state’s population growth rate, which by 1990 dropped 15% to around 4%. By contrast, the population growth rate in the United States fell almost 6% between 1970 and 1980, but stabilized at around 10% during the 1980’s. The growth rate for both the state and the U.S. rose significantly during the 1990s, deceasing slightly from 2000 until 2010. Population growth overall has slowed significantly since 2010. In 2017, the growth rate fell to 5.5% for United States and 3.03% for Arkansas.
In 1970, the median ages for Arkansas and the U.S. were 29.1 and 28.1 respectively. This gap closed as the median age grew so that by 2017 both Arkansas and the nation had a median age of 38.1.
Graph 3 shows the decline in married-couple households since the 1970s. Arkansas began the 70’s with 70.8% of couples living in married-couple households, nearly 5 percentage points more than the national rate of 66.1%. By 2010, the rate of married-couple households had slipped to 43% in both Arkansas and the U.S. This decline is due in part to a rise in unmarried-partners cohabiting, divorce, and other living arrangements.
It is important to note that none of the Census documents between 1970 and 2017 count same-sex couples as married couples.
*Inflation-adjusted using the Consumer Price Index
The growth in Real Median Household Income in Arkansas has followed the trend lines of the U.S. as a whole, albeit at significantly lower levels. This indicates that Arkansas, though influenced by national economic conditions, requires a local solution to improve its economic status.
The next post in the series will examine how racial demographics in Arkansas and the U.S. have changed since the 1970’s.