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Single households surge in D.C. area

Although there are more singles everywhere in the region, some places continue to have relatively large numbers of traditional families. The proportion of households headed by married couples in the Washington region ranges from a high of 61 percent in Loudoun County to a low of 33 percent in Alexandria.

The smallest proportion of live-alones is in Prince William County, with 18 percent. Alexandria and the District each had 47 percent; Arlington County had 45 percent. The national average is 28 percent.

The growth appears to have little to do with seniors in several jurisdictions, where the proportion of people who live alone after age 65 has been essentially flat. But seniors have been a factor in higher numbers of singles in Howard, Montgomery, Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Government officials played down concerns about competing interests. They said the interests of residents, whether single or married, will converge more often than clash.

"Probably the top priority of citizens in Prince William has been and continues to be concerns about traffic and transportation," said Bill Vaughn, the county's demographer. "Singles will have the very same concerns as someone with three or four kids."

Fairfax County demographer Anne Cahill said the construction of more condominium units and townhouses in the county might draw single seniors who want to shed the hassles of owning a house. "They're residents we want to keep," she said.

The Census Bureau survey also showed an increase in the number of households headed by single parents. In Prince William County, 11 percent of households are headed by single parents, up from 7 percent in 1990. Fairfax and Loudoun counties stayed the same, about 6 percent. The District also stayed roughly the same, about 10 percent.

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