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California Isn’t Getting Any Younger, New Report Shows

John Weeks, a demography professor at San Diego State University, talks to KPBS about a new report that shows the percentage of children in California's population is decreasing.

Guests

Dowell Myers, Professor, USC School of Public Policy

John Weeks, Demography Professor, San Diego State University

Transcript

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Change in Children

Change in Children

Change in Children Population State by State

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Some call it the aging of California. Others may see it as the changing of California. In either case, analysis of census data indicates that the percentage of children in California's population is decreasing.

A report by USC's Price School of Public Policy and the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health says children will make up 21 percent of the state's population by 2030, down sharply from 33 percent in 1970.

Researchers call it an unprecedented drop and say policymakers should begin to make changes now to ensure both adults and children in California are prepared for this new reality.

“These trends are not yet widely recognized, but they should be a wake-up call for policymakers,” said report author Dowell Myers, professor of policy and demography and director of the Population Dynamics Research Group at USC. “We will be increasingly dependent economically and socially on a smaller number of children. They are more important to the state’s future success than ever before.”

Myers said there are several factors contributing to the decline including lower birth rates, fewer newcomers to the state and a smaller number of women of childbearing age.

John Weeks, a demography professor at San Diego State University, said the trend is the same in San Diego.

"The birth rate has dropped a bit, that's put a dent in the number of young people," he said.

Overall population in San Diego is expected to climb by 1 million by 2050, he said, "but more slowly than in the past, and this little dent in the age structure will move its way through."

But California isn't alone when it comes to a shrinking child population. Seventeen other states are in the same boat. New York, Michigan and California are expected to see the biggest declines in the number of children.

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