California's Future Population

By Leon Bouvier
Volume 2, Number 2 (Winter 1991-1992)
Issue theme: "Getting past the immigration taboo - an international perspective"

The announcement from the US Bureau of the Census that California's 1990 population was 29,760,021 was a surprise. Yet that number is an undercount. On June 13, 1991, the Bureau announced it had missed over 1.1 million. Almost 30.9 million people lived in the Golden State as of April 1, 1990.

This unexpectedly rapid growth brought the issue of over-population home to many people. During the 1980s, California's population in-creased by over 25 percent. So rapid growth is nothing new, but it has new significance as the state approaches or exceeds its carrying capacity.

Equally remarkable has been California's shifting ethnic composition. As recently as 1970, over 77 percent of Californians were Anglos or Non-Hispanic Whites while Hispanics repre-sented 12 percent of the population. By 1980 the ethnic shares had narrowed to 67 and 19 respec-tively. Today Anglos comprise only 56 percent of all Californians while Hispanics constitute 26 percent. Asians and Others (including Pacific Islanders and Native Americans) grew from 4 percent in 1970 to 10 percent in 1990, while Blacks remained at about 7 percent. (These proportions differ slightly from those of the original count by the Bureau of the Census they reflect the adjust