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USC study: State natives outnumber immigrants

April 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's the changing face of California. For the first time in half a century there are more native-born Californians than immigrants.It's a population shift that has big implications for every one of us, from the economy to education.

Many people will be surprised. Immigrants are not coming to California. In fact the influx that started in the 1980s ended in the 1990s.

But that's not all. The slowdown in newcomers means fewer people to feed the economy.

Who is coming to California? And how many? You may not care so much now. But USC researcher Professor Dowell Myers says you will in the future.

"Our fate really rests with the children who are here now, who are the children of previous immigrants, and the children of the Baby-Boomers themselves. That's really where our fate rests," said Myers, who is part of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

His urban planning and demography study reveals a convergence of trends. The findings will hit your pocketbook. Do you have a home as a nest egg?

"We need middle-class buyers," said Myers. "All of us older folks think we live in million-dollar houses. Wait till you try to find a buyer. It is not going to happen unless these kids go to college."

Their education and the schooling of today's elementary students is critical. According to the study, they will be the ones who stay in California and shoulder the major part of the economic burden.

They will not have help from ambitious newcomers. According to the USC study, immigration has been dropping off since the recession of 1990, and it will continue.

At a tamale hotspot in L.A., owner Sandy Romero sees the reversal.

"Besides trying to find a job, you're also trying to pay the rent and survive, and back home it is not as difficult as it is here," said Romero.

The other trend in this future collision is Baby-Boomers will become elderly. And they will be the majority. They will depend on kids who are in the second grade today.

"When you educate these younger kids, they become better taxpayers and so they are going to be giving us money in the future if we educate them now," said Myers.

Researchers say they wanted to release their findings now as people make important choices about budget cuts and public policy.


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