Curious Nashville: How Age And Diversity Will Change Middle Tennessee Demographics | Nashville Public Radio

Curious Nashville: How Age And Diversity Will Change Middle Tennessee Demographics

Oct 31, 2017

It’s not every day that a Curious Nashville question requests statistical analysis — as history questions are most common — but David Stricklin wonders:

What are current demographics compared to 25 years ago?

Looking back at older census data isn’t always easy, but in this case, the answer is close at hand, and a recent report by the Metro Planning Department also shares some fascinating population projections for the future.

First, to look back, the most convenient source is actually Wikipedia, where some citizen editor has mined the 1990 U.S. Census (and earlier counts) for a demographics snapshot.

In short, Davidson County has become less white and more diverse.

Whites now make up about 60 percent of the county, down from 80 percent in the 1960s and 70s. Meanwhile, the black population has increased to about 28 percent; and the Hispanic/Latino count is up from less than 1 percent in 1990 to about 11 percent today.

This chart shows 2010 and future projections related to race in the Nashville region.
Credit Metro Planning Department

Since 1990, the city has grown by about 173,000 people — and notably, the foreign-population has risen dramatically, to nearly 12 percent.

The Future

Of course, demographics are about more than race and ethnicity, and one of the most closely watched trends in Nashville has to do with age.

Metro Planning is keeping an eye on what some describe as the “barbell” of age growth. Picture a barbell, because in Nashville’s case, there’s a large increase of young people and a large increase of seniors, but not as much growth in the middle.

In Metro’s demographic trends report, these changes indicate a real difference in the types of housing and transportation that are, and will be, in high demand. Households will be smaller and both millennials and seniors tend to want more walkable, tight-knit neighborhoods.

Projections anticipate at least 50 percent population growth in the region by 2040, so likely 1 million more residents, with Hispanics becoming the region’s largest minority group at 19 percent.

For the most convenient snapshot of current demographics, check out, which turns complicated data into simple visuals, along with a helpful search function. For starters, here’s a link to Davidson County, and from there, it’s easy to look at other geographic areas.