October 4, 2004


California Cuts Its Population Projection: The state is reconsidering the demands for new schools and other services primarily because of an unexpectedly large decline in the Latino birthrate. (Daryl Kelley, October 4, 2004, LA Times)

California analysts have sharply reduced estimates of the state's future population, and state planners are reconsidering long-term needs for new schools and other public services primarily as the result of an unexpectedly large decline in the birthrate among Latinos.

The state's population will keep growing as the result of two things: immigration, and births continuing to outpace deaths. But the increase will be notably slower than once believed.

Demographic experts now project California's population to hit about 51 million by 2040 — 7 million fewer than they forecast a few years ago, according to new state estimates. The state currently has about 36 million residents. [...]

"I think you could safely say more than half the reduction [in births] is because of the reduced … fertility among Latinas," said Mary Heim, chief of the state Finance Department's demographic research unit, which provides California's official population estimates.

Birthrates have declined among all racial and ethnic groups tracked by the state. But Latinas deliver about half of California's babies, Heim said. Their fertility rate — the average number of children born to each woman of childbearing age — has dropped by nearly a quarter in a little more than a decade. Latina mothers now deliver 2.6 babies on average, down from 3.41 in 1990. [...]

The change reflects, in part, the rapid assimilation into the broader American society of upwardly mobile immigrant Latinos, said Dowell Myers, a USC urban planner and demographics expert.

"People tend to think that Latinos have big families — six kids — but the reality is more like three," he said.

The trick is to keep them up around three while the rest of us rise to meet them, rather than dragging them down to our level.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2004 7:03 AM

The rest of you aren't going to rise up to meet us anytime soon, nor are Latinas going to stay that fertile.

However, the big need for population growth is to absorb the cost of caring for the Boomers in their dotage, and kids being born now are what counts.
If by 2040 Latinas are having 2 kids apiece, on average, it's likely to be fine.

For one thing, we'll still have an abundantly populated world, itching to get to the States.
If we want more people, we can get more people.
In fact, we're likely to get 'em whether we want to or not.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 4, 2004 8:19 AM

Michael -- [Charlton Heston voice]Wealth Is People[/Charlton Heston voice]

Posted by: David Cohen at October 4, 2004 9:15 AM

Well fed populations that do not lose a substantial percentage of their kids to disease do not breed.

-- Uncle Bill's Law

Posted by: Uncle Bill at October 4, 2004 9:19 AM

Catholic Orthodoxy would do the trick; perhaps starting with American Bishops who are Catholic rather than French.

Posted by: JimGooding at October 4, 2004 9:47 AM

Without seeming to be a making a smart remark, how many kids do you have, OJ?

Posted by: Brandon at October 4, 2004 10:33 AM

He has 3, same as me, the atheist.

The idea of the U.S. as a parasite on the rest of the world should not be trumpeted so loudly, though. The world might get ideas.

In fact, American Samoa already has. It wants to charge us for its immigrants (there are more Samoans outside Samoa than in).

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 7, 2004 4:41 PM


As nations face population crunches they are already having to pay immigrants to come, offer them housing, etc..

Posted by: oj at October 7, 2004 4:50 PM