LA Times: Native-born Californians regain majority status
Solid article on demographic shifts in Cali from the LA Times (Click HERE for complete article):
By Teresa Watanabe and Hector Becerra
California has long been the ultimate melting pot, with the majority of its population coming from outside the state.
Dust Bowl emigres, Asian railroad workers, high-tech entrepreneurs, Mexican laborers and war refugees from around the globe flocked to California. The majority migrant population filled the state’s myriad labor needs, challenged the schools with a cacophony of new languages and roiled its politics with immigration debates.
But, in a dramatic demographic shift, California’s narrative as the nation’s quintessential immigrant state is giving way to a new reality.
For the first time since the 19th century Gold Rush, California-born residents now make up the majority statewide and in most counties, according to a USC study released Wednesday. And experts predict even Los Angeles — long a mecca for new immigrants — will become majority California-born by the time the 2010 census is completed.
“Home-grown Californians are the anchor of our economic future,” said Dowell Myers, a USC urban planning and demography professor who coauthored the study. “But people are living in the past. They still think we are fighting off hordes of migrants.”
The study showed that California’s share of foreign-born residents grew from 15.1% in 1980 to a peak of 27.4% in 2007. This segment is estimated to decline to 26.6% in 2010.
Los Angeles County shows parallel trends, with foreign-born residents growing from 22.1% of the population in 1980 to 36.2% in 2006. That figure is expected to dip to 35% in 2010.
Meanwhile, the native Californian share of the population is projected to increase from 45.5% in 1980 to 54% in 2010 statewide. In Los Angeles, the homegrown share is expected to rise from 40.8% to 49.4% over the same period.
Myers said the recession and stricter immigration enforcement were probably two key factors driving down California’s foreign-born population, as fewer migrants are coming and more are leaving because they can’t find jobs. But even when the economy recovers, he said he expects the trend to continue because the state’s high housing costs and dramatically lower birthrates in Mexico will continue to suppress migration to California.