Dowell Myers, Ph.D. is a demographer and urban planner with the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. His research links demographic data (census, surveys, and projections) with future trends in housing, workforce, education, taxpaying, voting, and immigration.
At a recent presentation given in the Dietrich Theatre at Sierra College, Myers spoke about Children’s Doubled Importance for Our Successful New Future. Myers addressed what he said were several myths about California’s children:
- There are already too many children in the state.
- California is threatened by demographic changes.
- Children are a burden on taxpayers.
- Taxpayers don’t need to take care of other people’s kids.
- California can’t afford any more children.
These are old assumptions, Myers said, based on information that is no longer valid. Currently in Placer County, 50 out of every hundred people are senior citizens, compared to 40 out of 100 across the state. Meanwhile, the number of babies born each year in California is decreasing. In 1995, the birth rate in California was about 62 per 1,000 women. In 2013, it was 55 per 1,000 women, according to Kidsdata.org.
In addition, the number of people moving to the golden state from other locales has decreased as well, and that includes legal and undocumented immigration. Immigration peaked in 1990, he said, and will hover at about 25 percent through 2030.
If California intends to maintain its economy, it must get more serious about educating its workforce, Myers said. The state can’t afford school dropouts, so money spent on education is an investment in the future. “That girl who’s in second grade today, in 20 years she’s going to be a 27-year-old worker. You can count on it.”
California is almost 15 percent below average in its primary and secondary education spending at an average of $9,220 per student, while the national average is about $10,700. Meanwhile, California’s median income, $60,000, is about 15 percent higher than the national average. In Placer County, the median income is closer to $74,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Today’s children – of all backgrounds – will grow up to be the caretakers of today’s 50-somethings, and eventually they will have their turn as taxpayers, too. They will buy the homes of the seniors who are aging out of them. They need good educations and good jobs to be able to afford those homes.
“My Latino friends laugh at me when I say this,” Myers said, “But the Latino who graduated from college will be able to pay me $60,000 more for my home than the Latino who graduated from high school.”
You can also see a rough video of this presentation that was recorded live by First 5 Placer and shared on their Facebook page.
This event was hosted by Placer Community Foundation, First 5 Placer, Placer County Health and Human Services, Placer County Office of Education and Sierra College, with generous underwriting from First 5 California.