Demographer predicts robust population growth

Report estimates state to grow by more than a third by 2029

Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2005

KENAI - Alaska's population is expected to grow by more than a third over the next quarter century, according to a state statistician.

In a report by demographer Greg Williams, the state's current estimated population of 655,435 is expect to grow to between 730,231 and 888,604 in 2029.

Williams' predictions are outlined in the February edition of Alaska Economic Trends published by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Rates of birth, death and migration are the primary variables affecting population growth or decline, Williams said. Mortality tends to be the most stable, and fertility somewhat less so.

Migration has been robust at times, outweighing the impact of collective births and deaths. But those periods come typically during employment booms or busts. Long-term, migration's impact on population growth has been fairly trivial.

Migration rarely has exceeded plus or minus 4 percent of the total population, and since 1953, the average of all annual change due to migration has been nearly zero, Williams said. As a factor, migration is expected to have an ever-declining influence on total population change as time goes on, barring some unexpected event.

The average life expectancy of Alaskans is increasing and has caught up with the nation. In 1960, average life expectancy for an Alaskan was 2.2 years shorter than counterparts in the Lower 48, according to Williams.

By 2000, the average Alaskan was living 77.2 years, the same as the average Outsider in 2001, according to the National Center for Health Statistics and the Alaska Department of Labor. In both areas, women outlive men by about 212 years.

By 2029, the median age of Alaskans is projected to grow from today's 33.4 years to 35.8 years, due largely to the influence of aging baby boomers. As the number of older women grows, the current disparity between numbers of men and numbers of women - 106 men to every 100 women - likely will disappear by 2029.

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