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White Deaths Exceed Births in One-Third of U.S. States

Thursday, December 1, 2016 23:54
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In 2014, deaths among non-Hispanic whites exceeded births in more states than at any time in U.S. history. Seventeen states, home to 121 million residents or roughly 38 percent of the U.S. population, had more deaths than births among non-Hispanic whites (hereafter referred to as whites) in 2014, compared to just four in 2004. When births fail to keep pace with deaths, a region is said to have a “natural decrease” in population, which can only be offset by migration gains. In twelve of the seventeen states with white natural decreases, the white population diminished overall between 2013 and 2014.

Over the last several decades, demographers have noted the growing incidence of natural decrease in the United States. More widespread natural decrease results from declining fertility due to the Great Recession, and the aging of the large baby boom cohorts born between 1946 and 1964. This senior population is projected to expand from nearly 15 percent of the total population in 2015 to nearly 24 percent in 2060.

Much of this aging baby boom population is white, and so white mortality is growing. Together, growing white mortality and the diminishing number of white births increase the likelihood of more white natural decrease. In contrast, births exceed deaths by a considerable margin among the younger Latino population, and the combination of these very different demographic trends is increasing the diversity of the U.S. population.


Credit: University of New Hampshire

The 17 states include California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island.

“When births fail to keep pace with deaths, a region is said to have a natural decrease in population,” said Sáenz.

More than 121 million people–roughly 38 percent of the total U.S. population–reside in the 17 states with an explicit white natural decrease. In 12 of the 17 states, the white population diminished overall between 2013 and 2014.

The researchers believe that the decreasing white population in these states can be attributed to the rising number of aging adults, a decrease in their fertility rates and the falling number of white women of childbearing age.

States by Incidence of White Natural Increase or Decrease, 2014B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly8yLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8tTjJXVmdEOUR0c00vV0VFVWZjZ0dnMEkvQUFBQUFBQUJROGsvYzhhVmZ6a3h1RzRYLTZRX3l2akJVVXJ4dzlXdUE1QTlBQ0xjQi9zNjQwLzE4NzUwMjlfMTQ3OTg0MjE0NzAxOS5qcGc=
Credit: University of New Hampshire

Despite the large number of states with white natural decline, only two states had more deaths than births in their combined population. For the other 15 states, the white natural decrease has been offset by natural increases in minority populations. In particular, due to the youthfulness of the Latino population, Latino births exceeded deaths by a considerable margin during the same time frame. This trend, the researchers said, is related to the increasing diversity of the U.S. population. A 2014 report by Sáenz, in fact, contends that the single largest component of the U.S. child population will be Latino by 2060.

“Our analysis of the demographic factors causing white natural decrease and minority population growth suggests that the pace is likely to pick up in the future,” said Sáenz. “These demographic trends have major policy implications from increasing demands on healthcare and retirement systems for aging populations to considerable necessary investments in education and training for younger ones.”

The report suggests that competing demands between these populations could create considerable potential for disagreements regarding funding priorities.

The research brief was conducted on behalf of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Sáenz is the Mark G. Yudof Endowed Professor at UTSA and a policy fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.


Contacts and sources:

Jesus Chavez
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)


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