The American Community Survey, or ACS, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed the city of Berkeley has a median age of 31.1 years old — the youngest of the Bay Area’s 15 most populous cities.
All of the most populous Bay Area cities had median ages in the thirties, according to the survey. San Francisco’s median age is 38.2 years old, Oakland’s is 36.5 and Daly City’s is 39.9.
“As you might imagine, there are a bunch more folks who are of college age in Berkeley because of the university,” Ryan Edwards, UC Berkeley lecturer in the department of demography and economics, said in an email.
The age demographic of a population has an impact on schools, services and politics, according to Berkeley Population Center Executive Director Leora Lawton.
Berkeley is similar to many college towns in that it has a younger-than-average population, according to William Dow, campus professor of health policy and management. San Francisco, by contrast, has fewer children and teenagers when compared to other parts of the Bay Area, in part due to high housing costs.
Cities with fewer children may potentially have an economic advantage, as there are more workers to support each child in the school system. Politically, however, cities with fewer children may enact policies that are less advantageous for young people, according to Dow.
According to city Mayor Jesse Arreguín, the high percentage of young people poses challenges to the city, particularly with regards to the housing supply. Campus has the lowest percentage of student housing within the university.
Politically, the campus’s effect on the city’s student and renter population means Berkeley contains a high number of voters who may not necessarily vote for measures that homeowners favor, Lawton added.
Typically, a younger population means a higher birth rate. In Berkeley, however, high college graduation rates delay the city’s fertility numbers, according to Edwards.
ACS data reveals 73.8% of city residents over 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or more, compared to California’s 33.9%.
“The key feature of Berkeley’s demography is that it has a large population of students, (who) migrate in from all over the state, country, and world when they arrive, and then usually leave the city when they’ve completed their studies,” said Josh Goldstein, campus professor of demography, in an email. “This makes the age-structure of the city unusual in having many people in their 20s relative to other age groups.”
Contact Lauren Good and Molly Cochran at [email protected].