It is a nonprofit think tank founded in 1994 “to inform and improve public policy in California through independent, objective, and nonpartisan research.” (Founded with a grant from Bill Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard, it also receives funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.) The report surprising conclusion? “After a century of explosive growth, California is likely to become a slow-growing state.” After the year 2030, California seniors (ages 65 and older) are expected to outnumber children. “In 2020, California had nearly four residents ages 18 to 64 for every adult age 65 and older. This ratio is expected to fall to 2.8 by 2030 and 2.2 by 2060 if current trends continue.”
Births are exceeding deaths by more than 106,000 people a year. (Even during the pandemic, California had a lower COVID death rate than most states.) And international immigration remained net positive with an increase of 90,000 people in 2022. However, All of this was offset in 2022 by a net loss of 407,000 people who emigrated out of the state..
California already has a population of 39 million, but the full report cites July 2023 projections from the state Department of Finance that now “suggest the state’s population will stabilize at between 39 and 40 million long-term residents.”
The title of one graph notes that California “is losing homes at all income levels.”
(While most domestic immigrants are low- and middle-income, a growing share of higher-income Californians are also leaving the state. The “new normal” of remote work in many white-collar professions has allowed some higher-income workers to relocate. Politics could also play a role, as conservatives are much more likely than liberals to say they have considered leaving the state.
The decline in birth and fertility rates is a national, even global phenomenon, as economic and social events have changed the situation of women and their access to educational and employment opportunities. Total fertility rates (the number of births the average woman will have during her lifetime) have fallen across the United States in recent decades. No state has a rate at or above 2.1, the level needed to maintain its current population size (without accounting for immigration and migration), but California’s fertility rate has fallen faster than that of most. In 2008 its rate was above the national average (2.15); in 2020 it fell to the seventh lowest level (1.52).
The declining birth rate among young adults in their 20s is the main driver of the declining fertility rate. An important factor is that people in their twenties are now less likely to get married, which can affect the decision to have children… In the past, higher birth rates among immigrants also helped offset birth rates. lowest among U.S.-born Californians, although more recently birth rates among immigrants have declined, reflecting patterns in countries of origin.