All three major regions of greater Los Angeles – the San Bernardino-Riverside area, Orange and Los Angeles counties – have seen a sharp drop in their percentages of children. Only the Inland Empire remains still relatively youthful overall, with some 26 percent of its population under 15, well above the national average. In contrast, Los Angeles and Orange counties experienced a 15.6 decline in under-15 population, highest among the nation’s metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, the over 60 population grew by 21 percent.
One clear indicator can be seen in our declining school populations. Despite massive expenditures for new construction, over the past decade the Los Angeles Unified School District has seen enrollment drop by 7.5 percent. In that period, the student count fell by over 50,000, the largest numerical drop in the nation.
What is leading to this exodus of families? Sacramento politicians and their media enablers blame insufficient investment in education or simply national aging trends as the root causes. But then, why are other states, including our key competitors, gaining families and children?
Sacramento lawmakers of both parties share some responsibility. The dominant progressives’ regulatory and tax agenda continues to reduce economic prospects for younger Californians, leading many young families to exit the state. In contrast, older Anglos, the bulwark of the now largely irrelevant GOP, are committed to massive property tax breaks because of Proposition 13. Add good weather and the general inertia of age, and it’s not surprising that families might flee as seniors stay.