September League Day Program

Dowell Myers




Speaker: Dr. Dowell Myers, Ph.D.
USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development,
Director, Population Dynamics Research Group

How Bad is California’s Loss of Children?

Women’s City Club, Pasadena, CA
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
See the 1.5 hour video of the event here

The new children shortage is the latest shock wave in California’s history of volatile change, whether that involves immigration or soaring (and crashing) house prices. Now, too little attention is being given to a newly felt, dramatic decline in children, which is occurring even despite the benefits of diversity.
Research in the USC PopDynamics Group examines how population change interacts with economic trends and public policies.  Over the last two years we have been studying what is happening to our children and what it means for the future.
Always before it seemed that California was brimming with children, with rapid increases in school children (expensive to the public) and steady increases in births each year. But the peak year for births in California was 1990. Since that time birth rates have fallen and the number of would-be parents in their 20s also declined.
California is one of 17 states suffering a decline in children under age 10 over the last decade, a loss of 3.4 percent. A total of 29 counties in California posted losses of children, including Los Angeles (minus 16.9 percent) and Orange (minus 12.8 percent).
The loss of children has broad consequences down the road, and that is where our projections look. What makes this trend so ominous is that today’s missing children will lead to future losses of new workers and home buyers, and a shortage of future taxpayers to help support the baby boomer tsunami of retirees.
The new scarcity of children doubles their importance to the state as a whole, underscoring the need for more intensive investment.  To quantify the trend we developed the iCi (Index of Children’s Importance), which has drawn a growing amount of interest by policy makers, educators, and nonprofit leaders.
Surprising to some, or maybe it shouldn’t need to be said, but immigration and diversity are saving the state. Just do the math.  If it weren’t for the contributions of immigrant mothers (providing half of the newborns in recent years) or without all the diverse parents in the state (responsible for 72 percent of children under age 10), the children shortage would be more than twice as severe. Take out those kids and our future would be unbearable.
This issue of the PopDynamics newsletter summarizes an unusual amount of research we have released this year. And it points to useful data and reports posted on the Children page of our website. Also, directly below you will find capsule summaries of three new reports.

With best wishes and renewed commitment for the school year!
Dowell Myers

(The report is here from the Lucile Packard Foundation)

(The report is here from the Center for American Progress)

(The report is here from the First 5 LA and the Haynes Foundation)