California Demographics

California is the country’s most populous state and the sixth youngest. Overall population growth has slowed from the high growth decades of the 1970s and 1980s, but growth from 2000 to 2010 still matched the overall US growth rate. The ethnic mix in California continues to shift. Since 1990 the Hispanic share of California’s population has increased from 26% to 38% while the white, non-Hispanic share decreased from a majority 57% in 1990 to 40% in 2010.

Although California remains relatively young compared with the rest of the country, over the last decade the population distribution shifted upward to the older age brackets and California will soon begin to age faster than the nation. According to official state projections, California’s population age 65 and older will nearly double over the next twenty years from 4.3 million in 2010 to 8.4 million in 2030. This will occur as the huge baby boomer cohort— the population born from 1946 to 1964—ages beyond 65. In contrast to California’s older population doubling in twenty years, the national population age 65+ will take almost thirty years to double.


“California’s Aging Population, Not Forever Young,” June 2012
Analysis of population aging in California, showing how the unexpectedly slower growth in the young population combined with the relatively large baby boomer cohort will make the coming age shift even more challenging. Read more

“Understanding California’s Demographic Shifts,” September 2011
This comprehensive report on the changing demographics of California’s cities and counties was developed to facilitate greater understanding of how demographic characteristics differ across the state and to help inform decisions regarding changing needs of local communities. Each of the 200 demographic profiles includes visual and tabular displays that document changes in key demographic variables. The project was developed for the California State Library and funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Read more