Causes and Effects of Population Decline

Population decline may seem an obvious issue, but many people have not thought about the causes and effects of population decline. Ashtabula County has been losing population over the past 15 years. Ashtabula County’s 2014 population was estimated at 99,175, a loss of about 2,300 (2%) since 2010. Population losses have been the result of significant net out-migration which has averaged 500 per year since 2003.

Causes of population decline

The size and demographics of the population change when:

  • an area does not generate adequate economic opportunity for residents;
  • the spiral of economic and social problems makes an area less attractive to live in;
  • fewer children are born;
  • aging of the existing population;
  • families with children move to larger towns and cities;
  • young and better-educated people move to larger towns and cities.

Effects of population decline

When young people move to bigger towns and cities, the average age of the population in the place they leave behind automatically goes up. A community with a higher proportion of older inhabitants may be less attractive to businesses, which may additionally have difficulty finding suitable staff locally. Other effects of population decline include:

  • fewer schools, due to there being fewer children;
  • a drop in house prices because more homes are unoccupied;
  • fewer new homes being built;
  • less demand for rented accommodation;
  • fewer care facilities;
  • less revenues for shopkeepers and businesses;
  • the size of the residential workforce grows smaller;
  • fewer people going to the theatre, cinema or concerts, so these facilities are eventually cut back;
  • local residents have to travel further to reach the facilities they want.

Living with population decline

By working together, local stakeholders can develop ways to deal with the effects of population decline. For instance, schools can merge because there are fewer pupils to teach. Sports clubs can share facilities. Local governments can merge or share services. An plan is needed to help a community cope with the problems associated with population decline.

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