Last year, more people died than were born in nearly one-quarter of all U.S. counties, a new study shows.
This trend, known as natural decrease, is the result of younger people moving away, as well as decreases in fertility levels. Researchers from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) also found that rural areas are particularly hard hit by natural population decrease, which is taking a toll on local schools, hospitals and other family services.
“Last year, 24 percent of all U.S. counties experienced natural decrease. And, for the first time in U.S. history, deaths now exceed births in an entire state,” Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer with the Carsey Institute and professor of sociology at UNH, said in a university news release.
The state to which Johnson referred was West Virginia, the study revealed. Another key study finding: more than 90 percent of U.S. counties with a natural decrease are in rural America.