California’s Shrinking Child Population Signals Major Changes for State

[ Posted on January 11th, 2013 by David Alexander | No Comments » ]
David Alexander, M.D., President and CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health

David Alexander, M.D., President and CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health

A new report shows the population of California kids shrinking – 33% of state population in 1970 projected at 21% by 2030. Kids born in 2015 will carry double the economic weight of supporting seniors compared to kids born in 1985.

California’s population of children is shrinking, and that means some big changes ahead for the Golden State.

In 1970, children made up 33 percent of California’s population, but by 2030 they’re expected to comprise just 20 percent, according to a new demographic analysis commissioned by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health and conducted by University of Southern California researchers.

The growing imbalance between children and retirees means that the economic role of a child born in 2015 will be nearly twice as important as that of a child born in 1985, the report suggests.

“These trends are not yet widely recognized, but they should be a wake-up call for policymakers. Policymakers are making decisions about public resources and budget allocations based on what they think the child population used to be, and not what it really is,” 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.”

Why exactly is California’s child population shrinking? Far-reaching demographic changes, including coverdeclining birth rates, fewer newcomers to the state and a smaller population of women of childbearing age all play a role, Myers said.

The state’s birth rate has declined in every major racial and ethnic group since 2000 and has fallen below what demographers call the necessary “replacement level” of 2.1 births per woman. The loss of California’s children coincides with the expected retirements of the state’s over-65 population whom these children will replace as workers, taxpayers, voters and consumers.

Our hope is that this report will encourage policymakers to recognize the population trends identified in this report and address the issues they raise.  As children become an increasingly rare and precious resource, the case becomes even more compelling to provide them with best health care and education possible.

Read the report.
Watch the two-minute video clip.

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David Alexander


David Alexander, M.D., is president and CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. He is a pediatrician who previously was Medical Advisor for Public Policy for the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI). From 2002 to 2005, he was president of DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and before that served for nine years as medical director and administrator of Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Alexander served on the academic faculties of both Jefferson Medical College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

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