Cheap housing and the shrimping industry sustained Bacliff, and at that time there was no pollution in the water. "Gator" Miller, publisher of small newspapers such as the monthly magazine Seabreeze and the entertainment magazine Night Moves said that in the 1950s the The Galveston Daily News bought a large parcel of land and awarded free lots to subscribers; people who canceled subscriptions lost their homesites, which were given to other subscribers. Miller said that this resulted in "really fucked-up" titles and a lack of large business; Miller said that a retailer would not wish to buy land in Bacliff and then discover that an individual claimed a title to the land.
In 1961, when the post office opened, both names ("Bacliff" and "Clifton-by-the-Sea") were still used to refer to the community, which had 1,707 residents and 25 businesses during that year. In 1966 this increased to 1,782 residents and 17 businesses.
By 1986 the town became a bedroom community for workers commuting to Houston; during that year the city had 4,851 residents and 19 businesses. Since the 1980s, when the shrimping industry declined, more affluent residents moved to Dickinson and the unincorporated community of San Leon, while illegal immigrants, sex offenders, and other felons moved to Bacliff.
In 1990 the community had 5,549 residents, 27 businesses, six churches, and one school.
"Gator" Lomax said that "Just looking at it from an aerial view, you can see that [Bacliff is] destined to be a ghetto. There's no room there the way the streets are laid out, and the only way to relieve that would be if the county came in and condemned half the streets and let grass grow through."
There were 2,523 households out of which 36.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 29.0% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 109.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.6 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $32,188, and the median income for a family was $35,182. Males had a median income of $30,783 versus $25,172 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $14,884. About 16.2% of families and 21.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.6% of those under age 18 and 16.3% of those age 65 or over.
In 2008 Bacliff contained a higher than average concentration of sex offenders; one of 225 Bacliff residents was a sex offender, while one of 594 Houston residents was a sex offender.
Pam Matranga said that a nickname given to the city, "Felon City," is not deserved since outsiders, not longtime Bacliff residents, cause crime in Bacliff. Matranga said that cheap rental prices encourage criminals to settle in Bacliff.
John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press said that, due to economic pressures such as new development and rising housing prices along coastlines, Bacliff residents began to believe that efforts to lower Bacliff's crime rates would intensity. Miller believes that Bacliff will change only if drastic change such as mass redevelopment would occur.