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Study: White deaths exceeded births in one-third of states

Newly released report outlines major demographic shifts across country

University of Texas at San Antonio

According to new research by Rogelio Sáenz, dean of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Public Policy (COPP), and Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, more white deaths than births were reported in 17 U.S. states--more than in any time in the country's history--compared to only four in 2004.

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.

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.

UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.

This article was written in collaboration with UNH Today.

Read the full report: "White Deaths Exceed Births in One-Third of U.S. States"

Learn more about the UTSA College of Public Policy