The Declining Rhode Island Family

It’s not The Gays– it’s the Old People! from…

The number of traditional families — husband, wife and one or more children — in Rhode Island dropped by more than 15 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures scheduled to be made public Thursday.

In the 2000 Census count, 85,817 traditional families called Rhode Island home. By the 2010 Census, counted as of April 1 last year, that number had fallen to 72,675, a decline of 13,142 families.

The exodus of families is documented in other numbers the Census Bureau counts by five-year age brackets.

Those show sharp declines in children under the age of 15 and in people 30 to 44 years old, a demographic likely to include the parents of many of those children.

The largest blocks of population growth were people 50 to 64, with people 85 and older also showing an increase of more than 20 percent.

It’s the Grey Menace! Aarghh!

A closer reading shows that some young families are combining households with parents and grandparents, which makes them ‘non-traditional’– although it sounds very 19th Century to me, and of course, gay married couples with children are not counted.

The real issue is jobs, schools, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. We all know that, but it’s boring, unsexy and won’t make a career for the ‘defenders of marriage’. Worse- it requires taxes.

The ProJo article concludes that we had better start building more nursing homes, a prospect that is unpopular with the elderly and wicked expensive– so good luck with that. Is there a better way?

There’s no easy way, but as I visit people in their 80’s who live alone in large houses, the disadvantage of the nuclear family is clear. There’s no ‘one size fits all’, but there have to be better options than what we have now.