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 12th (it came out in 2015), 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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Friday, December 13, 2013

California's Demographics Rebound With the Economy

As a California native and long-time resident, I naturally pay close attention to what is going on here, and was interested to see yesterday's new demographic report from the Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance.  For the state as a whole, and for nearly all counties, the rate of population growth was higher in 2012-13 than it had been the previous two years, albeit not dramatically higher. Chris Nichols of the San Diego Union-Tribune covered the story:
At 0.88 of a percent, this past year’s growth rate pales when compared with the 2 percent to 3 percent annual growth that California saw during the 1980s and ’90s. But it’s up substantially from the 0.60 rate four years ago — during the height of the Great Recession.
John Weeks, a professor of geography at San Diego State University, estimated that immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines accounted for most of California’s growth during the past fiscal year. While the job market hasn’t fully rebounded from before the recession, Weeks said, it has improved enough for more foreigners to decide to settle in this state. He added that once they do, they quickly expand their families.
After talking to the reporter, I chided myself for falling into the old trap that population growth at the local or regional level is always a good thing because it is a sign that the economy is doing well, which is a sign that overall well-being may be on the rise. Indeed, the population projection methods used by the state demographers are closely tied to economic forecasts, since that is what is assumed to drive migration and, as I note in the story, that then drives the number of births in the community.  However, we also know that we can't sustain population growth at the global level, nor can we do it at the local level. We need to somehow break that connection between local economies and local population growth, but I'm not sure how to do it.

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