California Fiscal Future Grim with Fewer Kids and More Elderly
The number of children in California is on the decline, the number of elderly is on the rise and fewer people are moving to the state, according to a new report that argues the state will have to rely on fewer people to prop up its economy in the future.
The report, released Tuesday, found that the number of children younger than 10 fell by more than 187,000, or 3.6 percent, from 2000 to 2010, and could drop 100,000 more by 2020.
"We're shrinking our base while we're growing our top, and that's not sustainable," said Dowell Myers, the author of the report and a professor at the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy. "It's surprising to have any drop. We've always been a growth state."
Birth rates have been falling in the state for about two decades, but what is different now is that the number of people coming to California from other states and countries has declined, according to the report.
"We're used to getting reinforcements from outside, but they're not coming," Myers said.
One in 3 Californians were younger than 18 in 1970, but only 1 in 5 will be in that age bracket come 2030, according to the report.
At the same time, large increases in the number of Californians older than 55 are expected in the next two decades, adding pressure on the younger population.
"The projected decline in children becomes even more significant when viewed in relation to the growing number of retirees these children will be expected to replace as employees, taxpayers, voters and home buyers," the report says.
"By 2015, each newborn child will carry fully twice the weight of social and economic responsibility as a child born in 1985," it adds.
For California women, the fertility rate went from 2.14 babies in 2000 to 1.94 in 2010, a figure below the 2.1 births demographers say is needed to keep population levels stable. By 2020, the rate is projected to be 1.89 births.
The decrease in birth rates was seen among all ethnic groups in the state.
The report was commissioned by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.
California Birth Rate Falls Below Threshold for Repopulation
California, often viewed as the pioneer among states, may be foreshadowing a trend in the United States that could prove dangerous: declining birth rates.
Due to the declining birth rate and the number of immigrants decreasing, the economy of California will suffer. The number of older-age natives will put an immense burden on the younger generations to support them.
The sixty years between 1970 and 2030 will show a huge decline in the percentage of children in the state, from one-third in 1970 to one-fifth in 2030, according to Dowell Myers, a USC demographer.
The decline in children is not unique to California; New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Michigan also have the same problem. But migrants have been an integral part of California’s economy for decades, unlike the other states.
California’s birth rate has now fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman; it now stands at 1.9. The CIA estimates the national average at 2.06, which is dangerously low. Whites, blacks, and Asians all saw their numbers drop. Hispanics are only barely peeking over replacement levels and, by 2020, will be at or below the replacement level.