This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Look at California Population Projections

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health has just put out a new report on California's projected population of children, authored by demographer Dowell Myers of the University of Southern California. I was alerted to this by a producer at KPBS here in San Diego, who has asked me to be on the radio with Professor Myers tomorrow (Wednesday, the 9th) at noon (PST) to discuss population projections for California and what they imply. I mention the date and time in case anyone has a chance to also read the report and offer me any comments or suggestions ahead of time! (post a comment here or send me an email at

The title of the report and some of its verbiage suggest that the population of children in California is on the way down. That is sort of true, because the birth rate plummeted especially among Latinas when the Great Recession hit. This dent in the age structure will likely be permanent, but demographers for the State of California project that the number of births will start rising again this year.

Nonetheless, it is clear that California, like the rest of the country, will face an increasing ratio of older people to younger people, because the number of the former is growing faster than the latter. However, the biggest change in California, and one highlighted by the report, is the dramatic shift in internal migration. Over the past few years, California has shifted from a net importer of migrants from elsewhere in the US to a net exporter. Were it not for international migrants, the population of California could be headed to smaller, rather than larger numbers. So, rather than having a labor force that was educated at some other state's expense, California is now faced with having to pay for the education of its entire labor force (and maybe a few who are going to leave for elsewhere in the US). This is a HUGE shift and one that most people don't notice and certainly don't want to pay for. But pay we must, because the future of the state's economy is at stake.

UPDATE: The conversation about this with me and Dowell Myers on the radio, as well as a follow-up TV news interview with me are available at:


  1. I noted this on California housing policy. I'm wondering what you think about the relation between housing and building codes. This author seems to think that California building codes will make it impossible for young, middle-class families to live and work there anymore. You will end up with very rich folks who can afford the expensive housing, and very poor people on government housing. Has this happened anywhere else? Has it happened before? Do you think the author is right?

  2. Well, these are testable hypotheses, but the major point goes in the wrong direction. Other states need to step up and protect the environment for the future of our children in the same way that California is trying to do. If the playing field were level, at that level, if you know what I mean, then jobs (and people to fill them) would be less likely to leave California.