More Cities Face Naturally Decreasing Population

More people die than are born in Pittsburgh every year -- seriously impacting the city's schools, laborforce and healthcare infrastructure. Other American cities will soon follow, say demographers.

"PITTSBURGH - This city has passed a grim demographic milestone: More people are dying here than are being born.

What demographers call a natural decrease has been occurring for years in tiny rural towns and in some retirement meccas in the South. But the phenomenon is relatively new in metropolitan areas in the Northeast, the Rust Belt of the Middle West and Appalachia.

Hospitals are closing obstetrics wards and converting them to acute care. Local governments and other social service providers are adjusting to the emergence of entire neighborhoods where the average age is soaring, and private foundations are awarding scholarships to retain students and attract new ones.

In Pittsburgh, public school enrollment plummeted from about 70,000 two decades ago to about 30,000 and continues shrinking by about 1,000 a year."

"While natural decrease occurred in many Southern cities that were magnets for retirees, the overall population was replenished by the influx of younger migrants. But in Pittsburgh and other places outside the South, not only has the population aged in place, but also, to a lesser extent, the very old - often disabled and widowed - have returned to spend their last years with children and grandchildren and avail themselves of better medical treatment and transportation."

Full Story: As Deaths Outpace Births, Cities Adjust

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