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California’s Future: Population

Hans Johnson | January 2018


California has long been known for and even defined by tremendous population growth. No other developed region of similar size anywhere in the world has sustained so much growth over such a long period. Equally remarkable has been the population’s increasing diversity. California is home to large groups of immigrants from more than 60 countries, and no race or ethnic group constitutes a majority of the state’s population.

In the early 21st century, growth has slowed. Growth rates have averaged less than 1 percent in each of the past 10 years, making this the slowest-growing period in state history. Even so, the number of people added to the state’s population has been substantial—on average 330,000 new residents each year between 2011 and 2017. The California Department of Finance’s most recent estimate, places the state’s population at 39.5 million as of January 2017.

California will continue to gain millions of new residents in each of the next two decades, increasing demand in all areas of infrastructure and public services—including education, transportation, housing, water, health, and welfare.

This publication is part of a briefing kit that highlights our state’s most pressing long-term policy challenges in 11 key areas:

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the PPIC Corporate Circle and the PPIC Donor Circle.

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