I don’t know that I’d ever consciously thought it out, but I’ve long felt how difficult/expensive it is to raise kids in California. This University of Southern California analysis (“L.A. Is ‘Ground Zero’ for Shrinking Child Population”) documents the sorry situation. The bottom line:
Los Angeles County is now the epicenter of California’s shrinking population of young children as families are driven away by stressful economic conditions, according to a USC analysis of census data released today. Overall, California lost 220,041 children aged 5 to 9 in the last decade, a decline of 8.1 percent. Los Angeles County lost 21 percent of its children in that age range. “We are ground zero of the ‘missing children’ of California,” said co-author Dowell Myers, professor of urban planning and demography at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. The loss of children in the region reflects the difficult living conditions for families facing high housing costs followed by high unemployment during the Great Recession, Myers said.
The report is on the mark as far as it goes, but it seems to be missing the education factor. Major California urban areas sponsor a sort of educational apartheid; to put your kids in a public school that isn’t hideous, you need to pay up for housing in a wealthy area of town, or pay up for private school. Everybody who can’t pay up throws his/her kids into a maelstrom of lowest-common-denominator classrooms sprinkled liberally with gang-bangers who scare the hell out of teacher. I’ve seen this first-hand in San Francisco and now, yes, even in Santa Barbara, where my kids go to some of the best schools anywhere, but others living just a few miles away go to schools that are a splendid training ground for life-long failure. (NB: The wonky among you may want to go here to look at a series of analyses of population dynamics recently put out by USC.)