Who knew the most fascinating presentation at a conference I attended recently would be from a demographer?

Dowell Meyers, a professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, presented demographic data and projections that dispelled many assumptions about California’s population and made a strong case for why investing in our children is more important than ever before.

Here are some highlights:

California’s population is declining, especially its child population.

Former projections estimated that the state would reach 50 million residents by 2032.  The new projection is now 17 years later – 2049.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Myers_2013_3.9.13.CABudgetPresentation

Meanwhile, California’s child population has been in decline for more than a decade; a trend that is expected to continue.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Myers_2013_3.9.13.CABudgetPresentation

 

Fewer new immigrants are settling in California.

The percentage of immigrants newly arriving in California peaked in 1990.  This created a fear, says Meyers, that immigrants would continue arriving at this rate and exhaust public benefits.  For many, the fear is still there, yet the data don’t support it. Today, most immigrants in California are long-settled and older.  And immigrant families are having fewer children.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Myers_2013_3.9.13.CABudgetPresentation

 

California is facing a growing senior population and shrinking child population.

With Baby Boomers aging, Professor Meyers estimates that the ratio of the population made up of seniors will double in the next 40 years.  And there won’t be enough children to fill the void.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Myers_2013_3.9.13.CABudgetPresentation

 

And the take-away?  We simply can’t afford to let any child fail, including children of immigrants.

Professor Meyers framed it with these questions, “Who’s going to be our future workers and taxpayers?  Who’s paying into social security? For seniors ready to retire, who’s going to buy your home?”

Investing in children is absolutely critical to California’s future.  No youth can be neglected.  As Meyers says, “This isn’t just a nice thing to do. The seniors need this to happen.”

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