Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Immigrants and the 'new maturity' of L.A.

A report released last week by Cal State Los Angeles' Pat Brown Institute contains an interesting section about immigration and the "new maturity" of Los Angeles, examining the interwoven relationship between immigrants who settle in Los Angeles, the children they raise here, and the city's changing face as native-born Angelenos become the majority and the city's post-World War II baby boom generation reaches retirement age.

The multi-part report is called Los Angeles 2010: State of the City, and also includes sections on issues such as water use, transportation and local politics. In a lecture today at the University of Southern California, report co-author Dowell Myers, a professor and urban growth specialist with USC's School of Policy, Planning, and Development, lectured on his research for the immigration portion.

Among the most interesting findings: As the overall population ages, immigrants arriving in the country at the current pace will offset the growing senior-citizen to working-age resident ratio by 29 percent over a period of 20 years, and by 47 percent over 40 years, Myers said. With birth rates in decline, immigrants, and their U.S.-raised children, are needed to balance the senior ratio and populate the workforce.

"We (in Los Angeles) are arriving at this point ahead of the rest of the country," Myers said. "All of the country is destined to get here, because the baby boom is getting older."

Among the other highlights, condensed from the report:

- Few of the city's children are immigrants themselves. Of all the children under age 18 who were living in Los Angeles in 2008, only 7.6% were born outside the United States. However, the majority of children, 68.3 percent, had at least one immigrant parent.

- Fewer new immigrants are entering the city today than at any time since 1970. This slowdown has been underway for about 20 years; by now, the total foreign-born population has stopped growing and even begun to slightly decline.

- Los Angeles’s immigrants are now predominantly long-settled. Where 20 or 30 years ago there may have been one longtime immigrant resident for every two or more newcomers, this ratio had been reversed to three long-settled immigrants for every newcomer by 2008.

- The city’s overall population is rapidly aging, placing an unprecedented importance on the new generation now being raised in the city as baby boomers turn 65, and the ratio of seniors to under-65 residents grows.

- A new, homegrown generation of Angelenos has become the majority the city's residents for the first time. Where historically California has attracted migrants from other parts of the country and from abroad, the majority of young people in Los Angeles now are born here, with parents who are either immigrants or baby boomers.

The entire report can be read here.