Gazette reporter Perry Swanson invested considerable time into trying to understand why I discount growth boosters’ preoccupation with using “net natural increase” and “net migration” figures to give the impression fertility is the biggest contributor to our burgeoning local population. So it surprised and disappointed me to see a gross figure, birth rate, compared with net migration in both a caption and his story (Look how we’ve grown, 3/16/06). That’s the kind of manipulation of data I’ve come to expect from the growth industry.
One might wonder if there’s something in our water making us much more fertile than the rest of the country. The fertility rate in the U.S. today is just barely above replacement level, so it defies logic that birth rate would be the biggest contributor to our rapidly growing El Paso County population. Part of the explanation is we have many young military families of child-bearing age. Our state demographer has confirmed most of those babies leave the county within a year or two of their birth.