Where have all the babies gone? Michigan births lowest since 1944

Anne Lundberg didn’t worry about standing in the middle of Main Street in Ontonagon to take this photo. “You can do somersaults and not worry” about getting run over, Lundberg said.  (Photo courtesy of Anne Lundberg)

Michigan's big baby drop

Hurt by waves of recession and an aging population, Michigan has seen the second highest drop in the annual number of births since 2000. While the nation has seen a 5 percent drop, Michigan's loss approaches 20 percent. Only Illinois has fared worse.

2000 to 2017
4New Hampshire-2,493-17.1
 United States-201,297-5

Ontonagon is a quiet little town, and it’s getting quieter.

There are three funerals for every birth in this Lake Superior shore village of about 1,500 and the surrounding county of the same name. The number of children birth through age 9 in the western Upper Peninsula county plummeted 32 percent just since 2010.

“We’re Mayberry,” said Jan Tucker, referring to the quintessential television small town. “But we’re Mayberry without children.”

Related: Michigan is No. 1! At getting old. That’s not good news.
Related: Gerrymandering is dying in Michigan. Of old age. No joke.

Ontonagon may be Ground Zero for Michigan’s baby bust, but it’s far from alone. Since 2000, the number of babies born in Michigan has plummeted 18 percent, the second-biggest drop in the nation (after Illinois) and triple the decline in the U.S., according to Bridge Magazine analysis of Census data.

The ramifications can be seen around the state, from closed maternity wards in northern Michigan to sinking school enrollment.

And the implications for the state’s future are sobering, from economic struggles and school closings in northern Michigan where the birth declines are steepest, to challenges filling jobs in a state that is aging and likely to lose population.

“All of our policy thinking assumes (population) growth, and instead we have stagnation and decline,” said retired University of Michigan demographer Ren Farley. “The fact is, we may have to start managing stagnation and decline.”

The most likely way to head off demographic disaster may be to look outside our borders, says Kurt Metzger, former demographer for Data Driven Detroit and current mayor of Pleasant Ridge. Metzger says the state must entice young adults to move here from other states, a mantra of state policymakers for at least two decades (Remember Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s “Cool Cities Initiative”?) Attracting non-Michiganders to ward off demographic disaster likely involves more high-paying jobs, and possibly incentives from cities or the state.

No historic precedent

The last time so few babies were born to Michigan moms was 1944, when Franklin Roosevelt was president, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, and the state had about half as many residents as it does today.

There were about 153,000 births in Michigan in 1990, according to U.S. Census figures. Births dropped to 136,000 in 2000 and 114,000 in 2010. In 2017, the last year data is available, there were about 111,000 births.

“You haven’t had this sustained drop in births in Michigan’s history,” Metzger said. “And there’s no indication, unless a lot of folks move here and decide to have children, that it will change.”

A total of 49 of Michigan’s 83 counties – including virtually all of northern Michigan – had more deaths than births in 2017. Two counties, Ontonagon and Alcona, had three deaths for every birth; another four, Roscommon, Montmorency, Iron and Presque Isle, had more than two deaths per birth.

Kent  (1.8 births to each death) and Ottawa (1.7) counties on the state’s west side had the most promising ratios in the state.

Eric Guthrie, the state’s official demographer, speaks to groups around the state about the dynamics of Michigan’s population. It’s a conversation that can be depressing.

“What we’re looking at is the confluence of long-term trends,” Guthrie told Bridge. “Along with a decrease in fertility rates over the 25 years, we’re going to see the effect of baby boomers dealing with mortality.”

“Dealing with mortality” is Guthrie’s way of gently saying Baby Boomers are going to die off in the next few decades, making today’s birth-to-death ratios look like the good old days.

“You can draw a diagonal line across the state starting at the crook of the thumb (a line that would include Bay City, Midland and Mt. Pleasant), and almost everything north is in natural decline (more deaths than births) already,” Guthrie told Bridge. “Over the next decade, that line is going to creep south. Over the next 10-20 years, the entire state will have more deaths than births.”

What’s happening in Michigan is happening to a lesser extent across the U.S. But the drop in births in Michigan (18 percent since 2000) has been much more precipitous than the national average (5 percent).

The reason behind Michigan’s baby bust is buried deep in the demographics of the state.

Michigan women of childbearing age give birth at close to the U.S. average (59.5 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 in Michigan, compared to 60.3 nationally), according to Census data.

The problem: a shortage of women.

In Michigan, 37 percent of women are between the ages of 15 and 44. That’s in the bottom 10 in the country (the national average is 38.7 percent). A 1.7 percent shortfall of childbearing-age women doesn’t sound like a lot. But that's about 32,000 women and about 2000 births a year Michigan is missing out on.

An example of how that plays out in baby bust or boom: Nearly one in two residents are child-bearing age women in fast-growing west Michigan Ottawa County; In Ontonagon, it’s just one in five residents.

Michigan baby bust

There were fewer babies born in 2017 in Michigan than any year since 1944, a demographic trend with long-term consequences. Check what’s happening to the number of annual births by county in this map.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

A town without kids

Dot Phillips would love to retire. She serves on four boards in Ontonagon County. She’s president and secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, president of Ontonagon Animal Protection, and a board member for the housing commission and the local Methodist church.

“I’m 80 years old,” Phillips said. “But it’s harder than heck to find young people to take my place.”

The United Methodist Church where Phillips worships has a congregation of about 50 people; on most Sundays, a 2-year-old is the only child.

“You used to see kids outside riding bikes and playing,” Phillips said. “You don’t see that anymore.”

Like a lot of northern Michigan communities, Ontonagon’s troubles started with job losses. “Most of it happened with the closing of the mines and the (Smurfit Stone paper) mill,” said fellow Ontonagon resident Tucker. “The young people had to move away for jobs.

“The people that left, they love it here,” Tucker said. “They like the kind of freedom you get here to hunt and not have to fight the crowds at the beach and go golf and not have to get a tee time. But young people need jobs.”

"You’re talking about an aging state that is not replenishing its childbearing population,” said Metzger, the demographer. “What’s going to happen to at least a third of the state, those counties with more deaths than births? How are they ever going to turn around?”

Salvation in moving vans, not maternity wards

Ontonagon’s struggles play out in subtler forms across Michigan. During the Great Recession of the 2000s, Michigan was losing more than 100,000 people a year (the net loss between people moving in and moving out of the state). The children of those economic refugees are coming of age and having children in other states.

Despite an economic recovery, Michigan remains a net loser in state-to-state moves, with about 16,000 more people leaving than moving here in 2018. The state inched up in population in 2018 on the strength of immigrants moving into the estate.

The people most likely to move are young adults with above-average education – the exact type of people Michigan needs to grow its economy, as well as start families.

“We’re not going to enact a policy to increase birth rates,” said Guthrie, the state demographer. “So when you talk about moving forward, we need to stay laser-focused on the immigration.”

Related: Michigan population almost 10 million again. These maps and charts explain how

One possibility is to offer financial incentives for families to move or return to Michigan communities. That’s being done on a small scale now in three adjacent counties in Michigan’s thumb, Sanilac, Huron and St. Clair. There, former residents who left to attend college are offered up to $15,000 to be applied to student loans if they move back home.

Related: Yes, you can pay rural college grads to move back home

Kansas is doing the same thing on a larger scale, recruiting workers to 77 rural counties by offering student loan repayment of up to $15,000 and state income tax waivers of up to five years. The program has failed to attract many newcomers to rural Kansas, according to a Kansas State University study.

The European nation of Hungary got very creative recently, offering housing and auto subsidies and tax breaks to families, with the incentives increasing with the number of children.

The wrong kind of contractions

While that plan may be a little radical for Michigan, U-M’s Farley said the state needs to either look at ways to address the baby bust, or begin considering how to manage an older, less-populated state.

Among the myriad questions this trend poses for Michigan: Does a state with fewer and fewer high school grads need 15 taxpayer-funded public universities? And how will Michigan provide support for senior citizens in rural Northern Michigan when so few people will live there? Should the state merge low-population counties and consolidate more school districts? What happens to taxpayer-supported services if there are fewer working-age Michiganders?

“In 1946, no demographer predicted the baby boom, and maybe something like that will happen again,” Farley said. “But I don’t see how.”

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Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:21am

Who can afford to have children? Just the cost of child care is insane. People are moving out of Mi. In 1972 there were almost 10,000 kids K12 in Alpena , now there are less than 4000. Love to hear from you> R.L.

Charles Buck
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:42am

Are MI policymakers really struggling with their success at reducing teen pregnancy rates? Obviously Ontonagon's decline is directly associated with the closing of its largest employers, White Pine Mine and Smurfit-Stone Container, due to international market competition. While much the same reason, manufacturing decline, can be said to contribute to declining births across northern MI in general, international market competition has supplied additional methods of affecting birth rates. There is now a dollar store in every town selling condoms manned not by the long-time druggist of yore who knows everyone in town but manned by someone from out of town and who probably won't be in the job a year later. While policymakers may hang their hopes getting MI kids buzzed on recreational weed may lead to impaired judgment regarding safe sex, that remains to be seen as a viable solution. MI's migration solution has decidedly not been to lure labor from other states. That's difficult to do when your average wages stagnate for decades and many other states' rising average wages pass MI by. MI policymakers looked abroad to international sources of labor to backfill the state's chronic out-migration haemorrhage, culminating in Gov. Snyder hitting the accelerator by formalizing the process of immigration with the creation of the MI Office for New Americans which his successor Gov. Whitmer will likely also encourage.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:46am

It shouldn’t take a “think tank” to realize the young people need to follow the $. If there are no jobs, you cannot tantalize someone by offering to pay down their college tuition debt. Another band-aid approach to “not solving” what is happening in this country.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 4:00pm

And you aren't going to get companies to invest here when the roads are crap and schools are poor because the Repubs have been defunding public schools. Also it would help to consolidate and/or dissolve smaller school districts. 3 of our 4 children left the state for jobs. Good luck, Michigan.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 8:52am

A kind of radical idea, but perhaps if we stopped intentionally ending the lives of our own children before birth, this problem wouldn't exist?

Our fundamental societal structure assumes a concept of growing population (see Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, K-12 school funding) were there are more folks putting into the system than taking out. Those structures are destine to collapse if we have sustained negative population growth.

Mary Fox
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:45am

If you want women to stay, recognize their right to design their own lives free from YOUR religious and economic beliefs. No one wants to live under the kind of conditions right-wingers are designing. Read the Handmaid's Tale. Women want children on their own terms, in their own time line, in the number they choose to have. If you want them to have them in Michigan design your schools and institutions and businesses to incorporate childcare, equal pay, good health insurance, and excellent schools. Don't have cities with water so polluted nobody want to live there. Stop catering to the rich and start addressing the needs and wants of the middle class.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:35am

Abortion shouldn't be used as birth control.

Lukas Lee
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:25pm

It isn't.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:14pm

You may not want it said, but abortion does prevent, limit, stop births so it is effectively birth control.

Amy B
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:54am

Mary - Thank you for this comment. Beautifully said!

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:26am

The hilarious part of the Handmaid's Tale,is that it portrays the ideological /religious right being without kids and left being forced to bear the future population. Where the absolute fact is 180 % opposite, it is the religious right / stay at home / rural moms that bear the most kids and the urban left has few or none, but as you point out, want everyone else to take care of them . One of many reason it is a BS book.

David Waymire
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 4:26pm

Did you read the article? It says clearly rural population is plunging now. Urban population is kinda holding it's own but will soon be decreasing. And birth rates in this nation are highest among Hispanic women...many of whom would like to immigrate to our nation, but are being shut out at the border because of unfounded fears and racism.

Sherrie VH
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:28am

^^^What Mary Fox said, x 100. Thank you.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:38am

A religious issue??? It's basic science that says a baby, formed in the mother's womb who's development can be tracked by incredible technology, is killed during an abortion. Enough of all this Handmaid's Tale nonsense because you clearly haven't had a meaningful conversation with a conservative. I have no interest in telling women when and with whom they can have sex. I'm interested in protecting the innocent life that could come from that union and which could be discarded as "inconvenient" by the mother. If you want to defend a woman's right to end the life of a person because it's inconvenient (only 1.5% of abortions are attributed to rape or incest - Guttmacher Institute, research arm of Planned Parenthood), then by all means. I encourage everyone reading this to look into the upcoming Unplanned movie and the Abby Johnson story

Jesse Derrick
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 7:43pm

So who is going to take care of the child after the mother takes it to term, you want to protect the life of the unborn but when it's born what than. you can't just say "then she should not have had the baby" because she did not want the baby she was forced to keep it. it's not right to saddle women with financial responsibilities because she decided to have sex. if you really care about the abortion issues instead of attacking the bodily autonomy and health care rights of women try supporting non-invasive measures like comprehensive sex education for 6-12th grades and easily accessible contraception. at the end of the day, you have no right to dictate what a person can do with their body and your religious freedom should never allow you to abridge or place an undue burden on the rights and liberties of others.

Michigan Observer
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:55pm

Jesse Derrick says, " it's not right to saddle women with financial responsibilities because she decided to have sex." Who is saddling women with financial responsibility because they decided to have sex? Since when does having sex entail financial responsibilities? Obviously, it doesn't. It is only having children that entails financial responsibilities. It has been decades since it became possible to separate the two with a little care and fairly inexpensive birth control.

Mary Fox
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:21pm

Women have a right to their own bodies. No one is forced by law sacrifice their body to save a life in any circumstance. Women are not cows. They are people who have the right to put their own well being first. if conservatives want to encourage birth, perhaps they should provide low cost child care, provide universal health care for mothers and children, enact laws to ensure decent housing and education for all children, and provide a living wage to all workers as well as require paid leave for all workers for a period of at least a year. Conservatives have a nice patter about a child. They have no plan to a take care of the actual child. when they do, they can have a say. Until then, women have the right to choose themselves, their well-being first. Birth control should be universally available and affordable.

Kenneth Darga
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:00pm

Mary--On the surface it may seem that your comment is diametrically opposed to the one you are responding to, but I think that you both are right. Childcare assistance, access to health care, and living wage are all important pro-life policies that would make it possible for more women to have the children that they want to have. The most important ‘reproductive right’ is the right to have children, and that is an important natural right along with the right to eat and the right to earn a livelihood. Making abortion illegal without addressing the economic issues and other issues faced by pregnant women is not an adequate solution. Killing the children of low-income women before they are born is not an adequate solution either. You take exception to the ‘religious and economic beliefs’ of the prior comment, but that comment expresses no religious beliefs, and the economic beliefs that are expressed seem to be irrefutable.

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 8:11am


Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:00am

We should be enticing immigrants to come here, especially if they skills. Even if they are unskilled, without young people we will not have an adequate workforce to support a functioning economy.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 4:07pm

The WH does want skilled immigrants, however it also wants to deny the spouses of said immigrants the ability to also be employed. That is probably not a good idea.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:28am

What does Michigan have to offer educated women of child bearing age?

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:37am

The problems in MI continue to get more complex, but when you look at how much corruption there has been in government, this is no surprise. How many of the parents out there encourage their children reside in MI after college? Michigan is at the bottom of all state rankings in quality of life issues, including education. What in the world would entice young families to come here?

Mary Fox
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:38am

Why would woman come to a state with these roads, poor pay for women, poor schools, poor medical benefits, and a bunch of misogynist Trump voting men? The total lack of respect for women's issues is part of the problem and a legislature that has let right-wing religious interests write law. Were I a young woman, I'd be gone.

Mary Fox
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:38am

Why would woman come to a state with these roads, poor pay for women, poor schools, poor medical benefits, and a bunch of misogynist Trump voting men? The total lack of respect for women's issues is part of the problem and a legislature that has let right-wing religious interests write law. Were I a young woman, I'd be gone.

Mike Watza
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:50am

Really? You can't figure it out?
We loaded many of our tax cuts on the backs of our children's education in order to encourage fictitious "business growth". Then we cut them out of any of the benefits we grew up with in order to "right size" government and business costs. Finally, we stopped fixing all our infrastructure to again, "cut taxes".
The Michigan I knew and that served as a national leader on all the very best and innovative ideas and public policies, and thus served as a great home for families, died under the weight of deceit and greed perpetrated by the tea partying republicans and their devoss leadership.
So our children figured it out and left. Those few who remain do so at great cost, including the inability to afford to create their own families.
You know all this. The answer is simple.
Think. THEN Vote.

A Hope
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:36am

The recession around 2008 hit Michigan hard, but the Republican solution was austerity—cut, cut, cut, and privatize what you can’t cut and then give corporations all kinds of concessions to try to prop up business. Snyder let himself be bullied into supporting Right To Work, yet another corporate concession. Meanwhile the middle class saw good union jobs vanish, replaced by lower paying ones. Take school support jobs, for example: jobs that used to be union jobs, with at least some benefits and a passable salary, like substitute teachers, bus drivers, (does Dean pay what union drivers used to make?) and kitchen staff are all contracted out in many districts. And those jobs have become hard to fill because—-no benefits! Low wages! No track to promotion! The same story plays out all over the state. Republicans refused to raise taxes or find other ways to increase revenues, and the middle class took it on the chin. The roads are crap. Parks have closed. Schools struggle—again, due partly to funds being funneled off to charter and private schools who are much less accountable with public funds.
Young people struggle to find jobs they can actually live on. So, is this a place they would choose to bring up a family? How did that austerity plan work out, except for the CEO’s of the contract companies?

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 4:11pm

Well said. Thank you RepubliCons and your masters, the DeVos family.

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:29am

And strangely enough most all these people who you refer work for ..... Businesses! These same businesses given one of the worst business climates of any state ,strangely enough just weren't coming or being formed here for a 3 decade time span. Single business TAX, Personal (business) Property tax, heavy unionization and bad workmen's comp chased away companies. Your answer is to keep these?

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 1:43pm

What you're saying is, everything that made Michigan a good place to live for its citizens made it bad for corporations. Sounds like it's the economic system that demands this contradiction might be at fault...

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:01am

No, you are asking the wrong question.
You should be asking why will the individual accommodate a culture that doesn't benefit them, why will they pay more with less accountability, why will they tolerate disappointment, why will they accept less than a business, why will people stay in Michigan longer than businesses. People are more emotionally driven than businesses so they will tolerate more to fulfill their emotional wants than businesses. Their emotions, their internal influences reinforce the human inertia, so people stay longer. Business are driven by external factors so their inertia is in change to survive so they are more sensitive to external drivers such as costs.
People have a nostalgic way of looking at their personal life so history is a great influencer, business is driven by survival and that requires a continual looking ahead and adjust to exist in the future.
Instead of trying to justify things by claiming there is a competition between the individual and business/employers you should be asking question/listening about the future. Ask yourself where the businesses of the future are, what are the business services that are replacing the manufacturing jobs, why were the manufacturing business created in Michigan and why aren’t the new businesses being created here? Ask yourself what is the net flow of individuals, coming in or going out? Are jobs [the quality, the pay, the volume] a significant factor for the individual to consider? If so, why, how, and what can be done to make that happen in Michigan?

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:50am

I for one am thrilled to see these statistics. There are too many people here already. If we could learn to live in the houses that already exist and shop in the retails spaces that are currently sitting vacant, I'd be happy. Unfortunately, it seems the people of Michigan won't be happy until everything is leveled and whatever destroyed is overrun with people trying to enjoy the outdoors and get some peace and quiet.

Dr Gonzo
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:29am

It always was and is about the Benjamins. Children cost money. A lot of money. This isn't 1962, where Dad is making enough ends meat to feed a family of five in a nice colonial-style home. Diapers are expensive. College is even more ludicrous (but overall usually necessary for employment). You can have a great credit score (individual/joint) and still not be financially solvent. It is about the economy, stupid, and it's not great -- no matter what some job reports will try to sway you. People are struggling, and they are the same people who would have been having children 10-20 years ago.

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:59am

You can thank Ronald Reagan and that Closet Republican Tip O'neil for changing the tax laws that forced woman to go to work to help the family make ends meet!!!!

Kenneth Darga
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:33am

Too many people see children as a burden on society, when in fact they are an essential investment for the future. It is easy to overlook the obvious fact that children are future adults. People who undertake the huge financial costs and opportunity costs involved in raising children are performing a necessary and valuable service for everyone else. The sort of subsidies provided in Hungary would be a reasonable solution for the U.S. as well. Bridge has had excellent articles on the cost of childcare, and a recent survey by the New York Times found that childcare costs were the top reason cited by young adults for having fewer children than they wanted. [ http://thehill.com/homenews/news/395747-poll-young-adults-list-expense-o... ] A generous subsidy for parents of pre-school children--both those who pay for childcare directly and those who take time out of the workforce to care for their children--would be a good place to start.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:38am

It is job growth job, growth and job growth. Young people move where they are hired. That's where they tend to stay and have families. The UP and most of Northern MI is nice to visit but logistical no where. Other than some logging and extractive industries (how are those new mines going?), what else do they offer to someone wanting to support a family?

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:07pm

Too many women have been ruined by feminism, favoring careers over families and the welfare state over husbands. For what child care costs most mothers would be better off staying home, especially when so many jobs for women are either in bureaucracies that shouldn't exist in the first place or could be done by a man. Why waste prime childbearing years in soulless corporate jobs? Say what you will about patriarchy but it worked.

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 1:45pm

It's amazing that people still believe this trash and feel comfortable saying it in 2019

Barry Visel
Mon, 03/11/2019 - 1:28pm

Agreed, MI has taken population losses on the chin for a number of reasons. But, as the article points out, the nation as a whole has seen a 5% decline in birth rates. So, even those States with positive birth rates (where presumably some of our kids have gone) can’t make up for the overall decline.
Many years ago there was a journal called American Demographics...I don’t believe it still exists. At least 30 years ago this publication was reporting about declining birth rates (less than required for population replacement) in Japan, Europe (both east and west), Russia, and basically many countries considered “developed” as opposed to poorer countries. They projected this trend would continue to spread...it just took a while to reach us...and obviously we haven’t planned for it’s arrival.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 2:25pm

Maybe if we increased the gas tax by 45 cents a gallon it would bring more people into the state.

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:54am

And what is going to stop people from going out of state on a little trop to by gas!

Jeff Jenks
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 5:52am

Atleast it would replace the money we took from the K-12 school aid fund, that we gave to higher education.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 5:11pm

The comment section predictably launches into the basest of meaningless left / right talking points. "It's because of greedy CEOs killing union jobs!" "No, it's because Democrats love abortion!" As if the same couldn't be said of every other state. The drivers behind the decline in our birth rate are of course much more nuanced than can be tackled in such a short space, nor is the conversation advanced with such hyperbole.

Once you get beyond the shock value of the headline, the birth decline isn't as worrying as you'd think. Of course births are down...there are a lot fewer people in Michigan than 10 years ago! I'd be interested to see births per capita as compared to the rest of the nation, as my guess is there's not much difference. At any rate, I'd expect the population trends to reverse in the next 20 - 40 years. Michigan is well positioned for climate change -- it's a cooler climate with low exposure to natural disasters, ample water (when it's not poisoned), and arable land. As the south continues to warm, hurricanes become more devastating, and additional pressure is placed on water resources in the southwest, I would expect more people to migrate our way. We just need to make sure we have the infrastructure, investment climate, and public amenities in place to make sure we thrive when they do arrive.

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:39pm

Yes, your absolutely correct. The Midwest, Michigan in particular will be the place to be in the next 20-40 years. Michigan has very few tornados, earthquakes, no hurricanes, wild fires, and mud slides. Michigan is very stable. Plus 20% of the worlds fresh water surrounds the state. The great lakes basin is stable. Michigan is currently a large producer of agricultural products and will become even more important as the climate changes. Cities and areas on the coast will be under water. The southwest will be even more arid with a increasing amount of extreme heat days. Michigan will see more rainfall and be wetter. In 2100 though i'd rather be in Michigan than other areas.

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 9:18pm

The disappointing thing about this article is that the authors have so narrowed their thinking that they can only see a growing population growing and the only way to grow the population is through all manner of immigration.
What would have been more informative was asking the ‘experts’ why do we need an ever growing population, is population scale the only way to make communities viable, does knowledge/education depress large families or is it a driver to move away from small northern communities or from Michigan?
It would have been interesting to have heard from those who are having smaller families, or from those who are moving away. I wonder if the authors ever considered asking potential parents [those with no children or with few children then needed] why they weren’t having kids/more kids. Another question to ask might have been what were/are their discouragements to having children [is something be done wrong or something being omitted] in their community that contributed to their not adding to that community.
I understand that whenever you begin a project/article you need a sense of direction to take that first step, but I have learn that you need to establish the purpose before you decide on a direction. The authors/editors seem to have decided the direction [more and more immigrants] without ever having a purpose of a better informed reader on the topic of population decline.

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:42am

The young people went were the jobs went OUT of Michinga when the republicans took completly over OUR state!!!

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:43am

And why stay in a state with no jobs and very POOR schools,
Then you got cities that are against kids like Royal Oak and Ferndale

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 3:41pm

Immigration drives down labor prices. There only so many timber jobs available with all the new machines. Depopulation of areas populated by those independent minded entrepreneurs back in the 18000’s where the land was subsidized, is not to be wept. The land can then heal. Sentiment pulls at the youth that should leave. Sentiment offers little recompense. Couples can see the world and are stoked fear by the media. Troubled, confused youth with so many mixed messages have a high probability of being guardians of the state. Many just want to avoid that suffering.

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 8:25am

Both of my "childbearing" children have moved out of state as they could not find jobs in
their professional fields. They would like to return but are unable to at this time in their
lives. My adult son has been looking for a job in his professional field since last Aug. 2019
(7 months). He barely gets a response to his online applications. He is now going door
to door whether indicated or not. He is a Umich graduate with a great deal of experience
in his field. He is now looking to relocate. Too bad that the policy makers are at odds with
the realities of current daily life throughout the state.

Res ipsa loquitur
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 2:02am

Your son should leave Michigan for greener pastures. My daughter, sister, and two cousins attended the University Michigan, graduated, left the state, and never returned. I also graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to California three years later. Unlike the aforementioned family members, I made the mistake of leaving California and returning to Michigan's winters, bad roads, and backwoods politics.

John P
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 6:06am

A bit of sunshine on these dim comments: I have 3 children of child-bearing age. One is back living in GR. The other one will be back this year with her 2year old and one on the way. The other's goal is to get here. I can think of 4 of their friends (all with Children) who have made conscious decisions to move back. West Michigan is a good place to raise children, Grand Rapids is growing, Ottawa county is growing; both have strong business climates. We have good recreation, good business, fine people.

Jeff Jenks
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 5:42am

In fully grown first-tier bedroom suburbs with height restrictions in buildings if seniors love your community then there often aren’t enough homes for young couples to move into

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 1:00pm

The reason listed here is a load of crap. Michigan is one of the highest States in abortion. Start a movement to adopt these children instead of killing them and you will see a rise in childbirth.

Kathi Geukes
Sun, 04/21/2019 - 2:49pm

Seriously?? The fact that there are no good paying jobs in the UP has nothing to do with people moving away…..therefore there are NO young people to carry on traditions?? And you think abortion is the reason?? LMAO!!!!!!

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 2:53pm

No it definitely isn't. What's your source? The number of abortions - BTW, a legal procdure for the past 46 years - is several times larger in California and New York. Plus several states had more abortions than Michigan in 2015, the latest year that figures are available: Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation) Yes, there would be a rise in births, but not adoptables and in light of all the cuts to social services, those children will become the new poor.

Sat, 04/20/2019 - 6:21pm

You don’t think it’s because of one of the hugest vehicle insurance rates, and if whitmer has her way, the highest fuel tax rates in the country, do you? I mean, if 1/3-1/4 of someone’s paycheck goes to insurance, and another 1/4 to fuel, there’s no money to do anything else, really.

Martin Laus
Mon, 04/22/2019 - 5:44pm

With 38 years of Republican rule no wonder woman don't want kids. They have run our public school system into the ground made the State a low wage right to work for les, poisoned 50,000 people in Flint. Just to mention a few.

John G.
Mon, 04/22/2019 - 7:08pm

I have spent my entire life in SE Michigan. I attended engineering school at the U of M from 1993 through 1999. While ever other engineer I knew left the state, I was foolish enough to stay. After adjusting for inflation I am making *less* money 20 years later doing nearly twice as much engineering work in any given period of time, and at least once I have had my job sent overseas. Fortunately, programming is the last job in the world that Americans do better than everybody else, so I at least continue to work with any major interruption. This is not the environment that I would choose to even marry in, let alone have kids.

I am Michigan's best and brightest. I've helped launch five companies in Michigan, including one last year, but I lack the confidence in my state to start a family. It's a sad state of affairs.

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 12:54pm

This is what happens when government gets involved in how children should be raised. You want to tell parents what values they're allowed to teach their children, how they're "allowed" to discipline them and fine/imprison them when they don't comply. Not only that but who wants to put their child through the communist school system who teaches them they are a plague on mother earth. Free love!