Natural Decrease in American Counties

Kenneth M. Johnson, University of New Hampshire

In 2002, more American counties (988) experienced natural decrease than at any time in the nation's history. The incidence of natural decrease has diminished since then, but remains near record levels. It is most common in rural areas remote from metropolitan centers. Spatial concentrations exist in the Great Plains, Corn Belt and East Texas, with scattered pockets in the Ozark Ouachita Uplands, Upper Great Lakes and Florida. Natural decrease is a consequence of the complex interaction between fertility, mortality and migration over a protracted period. Age structure changes resulting from protracted, age specific migration are a primary cause of natural decrease. Temporal variations in fertility also have a significant impact, but natural decrease counties do not have fertility levels that are below the national average. Recently Hispanic population gains in areas that were traditionally non-Hispanic white have started to alter the patterns of natural decrease.

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Presented in Poster Session 7