Study: Ala. migration, fertility & marriage rates dropping

Just in time for World Population Day on Monday, July 11, Auburn University at Montgomery's Center for Demographic Research has released its 2011 Alabama Population Data Sheet. Among its findings, the sheet indicates that migration, fertility and marriage rates are on the decline in the state.

According to the data sheet, the state's current net-migration is 16,363, which is lower than the 18,578 reported in the last sheet in 2009. This means that Alabama is losing population through out-migration as more people move to other states. The domestic net-migration decreased from 15,118 in 2007-2008 to 11,044 in 2008-2009. In contrast, international net-migration increased from 3,460 to 5,319 during the same period.

Much of this increase in international migration is from the Hispanic group, which grew by an astonishing 144.8 percent between 2000 and 2010 – making Alabama the second fastest growing Hispanic state in the nation just behind South Carolina at 147.9 percent.

Other important changes include a continuous decline in the fertility rate and a lower marriage rate. The total fertility rate, which measures the average number of children per woman, is now 2.0. This is below the 2.1 children per woman that parents need to produce just to replace themselves. Thirty-nine counties have already reached below replacement fertility. The highest fertility rate was observed in Marshall County, 2.8 children per woman, while Macon, Lauderdale, Washington, Coosa and Lee counties tied for the lowest fertility rate at 1.6 children per woman.

The state's marriage rate has also declined from 9.0 per 1,000 population in 2007 to 8.3 per 1,000 in2009. In addition, the current data sheet lists Washington as the county with the highest marriage rate, 27.7 per 1,000, while Macon County had the lowest marriage rate at 4.5 per 1,000.

"These declines in migration, fertility and marriage lead to slower population growth, which can have unintended consequences on the state's socio-economic development in the next decades," said Yanyi Djamba, director of the Center for Demographic Research. "In fact, the 31 counties that have registered negative population growths are also among the poorest in the state."

The 2011 Alabama Population Data Sheet provides up-to-date demographic data for all the counties. It shows just how sharp the contrasts are between rich and poor counties – and how each county compares to the state and the nation.

For more than 30 years, the Center for Demographic Research housed at Auburn Montgomery has provided high-quality, independent research on a wide variety of population topics. It provides demographic information and interpretation guidance of complex demographic issues to Alabama's citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations and public agencies.

For more information on the 2011 Alabama Population Data Sheet or to learn more about the center visit

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn University Montgomery