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 12, 2014

California's Population is Growing a Bit Faster--It's All About the Economy

California's 38 million people make it the most populous state in the nation, well ahead of #2 Texas. California's population is larger than Canada's and if it were an independent country, it would be tied with Poland for 35th most populous in the world. So, the demographics of California matter, and every year the California Department of Finance produces its estimates of population growth in each county of the state. This year's report came out yesterday and revealed, in particular, that net domestic migration out of California had slowed down, thereby increasing the rate of population growth in the state as a whole, and in many key counties, including San Diego County. I was asked to comment on this for the San Diego Union-Tribune, in what turned out to be a front page story:
California added 335,000 people over the past year, including more than 35,500 in San Diego County, the report showed. Those numbers are up from previous years because losses due to migration to other states dropped dramatically both statewide and in the San Diego region.
Job and housing growth are key reasons people are staying put, said John Weeks, a demographer and professor of geography at San Diego State University.
“The incentives for staying are better than they have been recently,” Weeks added. “Once you’re here, you want to stay. Of course, I’m biased. But there isn’t a better place to live.”
In San Diego, as throughout California, a large share of growth is driven by international migration (both legal and undocumented) and a major fraction of all births are to immigrants. At the same time, the pattern has shifted in recent years:
With foreign immigrants arriving in growing numbers in the Midwest, South and East Coast, however, California “is no longer the major destination” that it used to be for people from Mexico and Central America, Weeks, the San Diego State professor noted.
He and others said the lower costs of living and expanded immigrant networks in other parts of the country are convincing new arrivals to bypass California.
This is all very different from the 1950s through the 1970s, when domestic in-migration, in particular, was driving the demography of the state.  

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