TRENDS IN THE FLORIDA POPULATION
Daniel E. Alleger
Associate Agricultural Economist
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Read before the Twelth Annual Meeting of the Florida Academy
of Sciences in conjunction with the Southeastern Section of the
Society of American Bacteriologists, Florida State University,
Tallahassee, Florida, November 21, 1947.
-A'". / 4
TRENDS IN THE FLORIDA POPULATION
Daniel E. Alleger
Associate Agricultural Economist
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
The United States has come of age and is rapidly reaching a period of
maturity. Some population authorities predict the United States will reach its
maximum growth by 1980 If this is true there will be a leveling off in num-
bers and subsequent actual decline unless our present immigration policies are
modified or reversed, or other unpredictable circumstances arise.
Fertility ratios calculated for most American cities indicate population
replacement rates are too low for continued growth, and in many cases are not
sufficient for mere maintenance of numbers. Were it not for rural-urban mi-
gration the populations of many cities would actually decline.
In a transition from an increasing to a stationary or decreasing popu-
lation, such as is now taking place in the United States, three of the pertinent
transitory changes deserve critical attention. Those considered are, first, a
slowing down in the rate of natural increase, or the excess of births over
deaths; second, an increase in the proportions of the population in their
productive years of life, the ages of 15 to 65; and third, an increase in the
number of persons over are 65.
The redistribution in age groups presents a whole new set of problems in
cultural and economic relationships. Inasmuch as age changes in the Florida
population are following the general pattern of age redistribution in the
United States, state and city officials and social planners must cope with the
1/ The Problems of a Changing Population. National Resources Committee,
Washington, D. C., 1938, p. 7.
economic and cultural measures required by expanding populations at a time when
upward changes in the age distribution of the population will force the problems
of the older groups sharply into focus. It is a dual responsibility faced only
in a few states on a large scale at the present time.
Contemporary Changes in the Population of Florida
It is not possible, due to limitations of time, to review many of the
problems incident to those circumstances just recited. Nevertheless, some
significant observations on recent population changes in Florida can be compre-
hended best by simple summarization These points are:
1. From 1830 to 1945 the white race increased from 18,385 to 1,695,301
and the Negro race from 16,345 to '554,760.
2. If the 1915-45 rate of population growth in Florida is maintained
until 1976 the population will then number about 5,500,000 or double the 1945
3. Every state in the United States has contributed to the native white
population of Florida. Negro immigrants came largely from 8 nearby Southern
states and New York state.
4. The recorded out-county migrations of the Negroes from many Florida
counties between 1935 and 1945 were, in general, at proportionally higher rates
then for recorded out-county migrations of white persons for the same period.
5. In 1850 Florida was wholly rural but in 1945 about 64 percent of the
population lived in incorporated centers.
6. Birth retes were usually higher in those counties from which the
population out-movements were greatest between 1935 and 1945, and income tax
returns per 1000 total population fewesti- .
7. The age composition of the Florida population as a whole, and for
both the white and Negro races separately, has changed during the past few
decades. Changes have included an increase in the proportions of aged persons,
an increase in the proportions of persons in the economically productive groups,
1/ The Changing Population of Florida. D. E. Alleger, Fla, Agri. Exp. Sta.,
Gainesville, Florida, November, 1946. Based on U. S. Census data and the Florida
State Census of 1945.
2/ Based on 1941 birth rates and 1942 income tax returns per 1000 total population.
and a decrease in the proportions of the number of children. Changes in the
white race toward increased proportions of persons in the older ages usually
preceded similar changes in the Negro race.
8. The fertility ratio for Florida in 1940 was not sufficient for
Population Concentration, Migration, and Redistribution
In 1945 over 66 percent of the Florida population lived in the 11 counties
with the 12 largest cities. Also nearly half of the population was centered in
counties facing the Atlantic Ocean. Populations in excess of 10,000 were re-
ported for 23 cities. Approximately 810,000 people were rpore 4as rural re-
sidents in 1945, which while an increase of over 200,000 over 1935, was yet
proportionally less than in 1935. The trend in drop in rural residents has been
in process for decades, dropping from 100 percent rural in 1850 to 45 percent
in 1940 and 36 percent in 1945. Also, in 1945 less than 5,000 persons were
enumerated in counties, 6 of which reported net losses from 1940 to 1945.
Moreover, a total of 29 counties experienced losses between 1940 and 1945.
Every state in the Union has contributed to the native white population
of Florida. State census data indicate white immigrants came largely from the
Mississippi Valley and from states to the east of the VPlley. In 1945 over
300,000 Georgia born persons resided in Florida, of whom 128,790 were Negroes.
Georgia born Florida residents increased by over 71,000 between 1935 and 1945,
and Alabama born residents by 40,675. The net contribution by Alabama at the
time of the 1945 census exceeded 124,000 of whom 28,096 were Negroes. Other
states which had contributed over 20,000 white persons to the Florida population
were New York, Pennsylvenia, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, Indiana,
South Carolina, Michigan, Massachusetts, Kentucky and New Jersey in the order named
1/ U. S. Census Data.
2/ Florida State Census of 1945. This is about 6 percent lower than the U. S.
The white immigrants from the states just referred to, excluding Alabama
and Georgia, settled chiefly in a limited number of counties. All 12 states
provided at least 1000 immigrants for Dade, Duval, Hillsborough and Pinellas
Counties, 11 states to Orange and Palm Beach Counties, 9 to Polk, 6 to Broward,
4 to Volusia and New York state alone contributed over 1000 to Escambia County.
All other counties of Florida had received less than 1000 immigrants each from
any one state contributing more than 20,000 residents to Florida, except from
Georgia and Alabama. It appears thapl10 counties are receiving the largest
number of immigrants from all states north of Alabama and Georgia and east of
the Mississippi River.
Immigrant Negroes while scattered throughout the state have located most
heavily in the same counties just listed with the additions of Seminole, Gadsden
and Bay. Except for 1,002 Negroes born in New York and living in Florida in
1945, the majority of the Negro immigrants came from 8 Southern states: Virginia,
Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and
During periods of the most active immigrations the intra-state movements
in Florida were considerable and patterns definitely discernable. From some
counties the exodus of the Negroes was proportionally more rapid than for the
whites. Jefferson County is an example. In 1890 approximately 3,500 whites
were enumerated and about 12,200 Negroes, and in 1910, when the county population
was near its peak, nearly 4,100 whites and 13,100 Negroes were reported. How-
ever, in 1945 the white population remained at about 4,000 but the Negro popu-
lation had dropped to 7,100. From 1910 to 1945 the white population had declined
only 3 percent but the Negro over 46 percent. Conversely, Dade County is an
example of growth. In 1910 about 4,200 Negroos were reported in the county, and
in 1945 nearly 54,000. While only 25,300 gave Florida as their state of birth
this number appears to be greater than natural increase alone had established.
To conclude that Negroes from many Northern and Northwest Florida counties are
moving to urban centers and to counties in Southern Florida seems justified
from data available The Negro quest appears to be a search for economic
opportunity, since those counties with relatively high per capital incomes are
the most favored.
Natural increase was less important as a source of population supply in
Florida in the latter part of the 1915-45 period than immigration. The 1945
census established that 55 percent of the Florida white population and 39 percent
of the Negro population were born outside of Florida.
Evidence pointing to a decline in the rate of natural increase is con-
clusive. Between 1880 and 1940 the percent of white males in Florida ranging
in age from birth to 14 years dropped by 17.6 percent, and for white females by
18.5 percent. For the Negro race respective drops were 18.3 and 18.1 percent.
In 1940 the fertility ratio for Florida was less than necessary to maintain the
population, Table 1. If this condition is not reversed, large proportions of
Florida's future citizens must come from other states if the state is to continue
In fertility changes the Negro is following the trend of the white race.
For at least a hundred years, he has adhered to institutions that were typically
Anglo-Saxon. In fertility and age changes there were marked resemblances. In
1940 differences in fertility ratios were more distinct between rural and urban
centers than between races. Generally, birth rates among Negroes have been
1/ In 1940 about 92 percent of the Miami Negroes were under 50 years of age as
compared to 79 percent for the American born whites.
higher than among the white race, but frequently deaths also have been greater.
This resulted in a lower state fertility ratio for Negroes than for native
whites in 1940.
Table l.--Differences in Fertility Between Native
Whites and Negroes for Florida, 1940.
Residence Groups : All Classes Native White : Negro
State 2 383 405 365
Total rural 545 : 561 531
Rural non-farm 496 519 465
Rural farm 657 : 652 689
Total urban : 280 299 : 270
Jacksonville 278 302 251
Miami : 242 : 263 : 229
Pensacola 335 367 278
*Based on number of children under 5 per 1,000 women 20 44 years of
age. Theoretical replacement quota, 444. In Florida in 1870 there
were 923 children under 5 per 1,000 women 20 44, 707 children in
1910, and 479 in 1930.
SOURCE: U. S. Census, 1940.
In 1940 the Negro rural farm population in Florida was providing a pro-
portionally larger share of the population replacement than any other group .
Certain traditions under which reproduction is regulated by prescriptions
and taboos are dropped in growing cities whereas other traditions are acquired.
/ Some authorities use a fertility ratio based on the total number of children
under 5 per 1,000 females 15 44. It is computed as follows:
S Number of children under 5
Fertility ratio = Number of females 15 44 X 1,000
In 1930 about 370 children per 1,000 women 15 through 44 were necessary to main-
tain a stationary population. For discussion refer to Land Economics by Ely and
Wehrwein, pp. 14-15, and to La. Bul., No. 403, 1946, La. Agri. Exp. Sta., Differ-
ential Fertility in Louisiana, p. 7.
By the use of this formula a fertility ratio of 314 children under 5 per 1,000
females 15 44 was obtained for the 1940 population of Florida.
This is especially true when ethnically different city populations, culturally
and religiously diverse, are separated chiefly along functional lines, such as
economic or occupational status, as are most cities in Florida. Traditions re-
lating to unlimited family size have survived more persistently in rural areas
than in the cities All cultural ways and habits which tend to prolong or
shorten life are reflected in the density of population. Also, studies to date
have shown that areas having a high ratio of children to adult population are
usually areas with low per capital incomes and meager resources. Yet, even in
spite of adherence on the part of many members of disadvantaged populations to
traditional folkways, their fertility rates may continue to drop because of a
redistribution in age composition alone. Not withstanding the general postwar
upsurge in the birthrate, the outlook is that we are to become a nation--and
also a state within the nation--with an average age above that of today, and a
fertility ratio lower than at present, especially among those classes still
supplying the largest proportions of the population replacements to the state
Redistribution in Age Structure
Problems created by a changing age composition of a population are many
and varied and affect the economic as well as the social life of a people.
1/ Changes in traditions should be more thoroughly explored, Dr. Kingsley Davis,
of Princeton University, in a letter to the writer states, "It is very important
from the point of view of demographic analysis to differentiate between the tra-
ditions lost and the ones not lost, and to study the timing of these changes."
2/ "The change in age distribution is a function of two different factors that
are not necessarily related. Improvement in conditions affecting health is cau-
sing an increase in the proportion of those born alive who reach maturity and
survive to more advanced ages. At the same time we are passing out of the period
when infants entered the scene in larger numbers each year, while the mature
population was made up of survivors of a much smaller number of infants. For both
reasons, the percentage of children in the total population is decreasing, while
the percentage of aged persons is growing." The Problems of a Changing Population,
National Resources Committee, 1938. p. 25.
Differences in age composition are often more pronounced between political sub-
divisions within a state than between states. For example, in 1940, 44.5 percent
of the Florida rural farm people were 19 years of age or under as compared to
29.1 percent of the urban population. This rural surplus of young people over
that of the cities makes it possible for urban populations to recruit employ-
ment replacements by attracting rural youth or persons of early maturity. In
1940 the ape group of 20 to 44 years represented 43.7 percent of the Florida
urban population and only 31.9 percent of the rural-farm population.
Not only are differences in age composition noted in various segments of
the population between residential groups, but changes in the age composition
in the same residential groups occur from one census period to another. In 1880
over 42 percent of the white population and 45 percent of the Negro population
were under age 15. These proportions had dropped to 33 and 36 percent for the
two races, respectively,.by 1940,
The labor supply of the future, as the population continues to increase
in average age will be older than at present. Unless industry deals with this
fact realistically the social implications are most serious. There is need for
mutual understanding and tolerance for older workers past middle age and not
ready for retirement.
Approximately 71,000 persons 65 years of age or older resided in Florida
in 1940, which included 8 percent of the white population and 4 percent of the
Negro population as against 2 percent in 1880 for both races. By 1980, even
with a stationary population, this number may reach or exceed 213,000 if the
I/ Proportions for ago groups 25 to 54 in 1940 Pnd 1880 were bout 43 and 31
rate of increase equals that expected for the nation as a whole As a nation
pledged to the security of the aged through legislation, the age changes taking
place in the total population within any state are of economic concern to all
Americans wherever they may live.
However, economic aspects are but a part of the problems arising from
changes in age composition. More homes for the needy and mentally infirm, and
more small residential homes may be required in the years ahead than at present.
Conditions enhancing cultural progress, and opportunities for spiritual and in-
tellectual development of individuals of the more mature ages must be recognized.
Per capital food consumption and eating habits may change radically as
larger proportions of the total population become older. Also in education
there will be regional problems arising from decreasing school enrollments due
to changes in age composition. For example, as a result of fewer younger
children per family, or because of emigration or both, school enrollments in
certain areas now show more children are enrolled in the upper 6 than in the
lower 6 grades.
Some more immediate effects upon the age composition of rural populations
occur in areas where considerable out-movement has taken place. It has been
estimated that the loss of the most talented 10 percent will cut down 50 percent
of the effective community support. Furthermore, conservatism is characteristic
of advanced age. In communities where increasing proportions of the people are
redistributed into older age groups conservatism may increase and extend into
community affairs and political thought. Also with age there appears to be a
1/ About 7,500,000 persons over 65 were estimated for the United States in 1935.
The number of this age class may reach 22,000,000 by 1980. The Problems of a
Changing Population. p. 32.
definite slowing 4i&witg down of action, both physically and mentally. Attitudes
of people under such circumstances may develop into strong sentiments against
change, even to the point of open opposition to proposed programs for community
Inasmuch as age composition changes of a population affect not only the
economic and social life of a people, but also man's thoughts and attitudes,
the broad implications that age changes have on economic activity, natural re-
sources, and social institutions, suggest that the subject needs to be more
If stability of population is one of the prerequisites for the well-
being and prosperous future of Florida, and if a measure of well-being and
prosperity depends upon complete regional adjustments between populations and
the natural and material resources of the state, then the realization of this
goal cannot be expected immediately. Rather, it would seem that certain local
areas have particularized problems which, because of redundant populations, or
through failure to equalize opportunity, will become still more pressing before
they are solved.
Certainly both cooperation and competition are essential characteristics
of an effective economy. There are few civic or intellectual leaders who do not
recognize the need for further experimentation in order to find the ideal balance
between these two features. Differences of opinion, however, as to ways to pro-
ceed and changes to be sought are intense. The future course of the Florida
,/ Diettrich, Sigismond DeR., Florida's War Economy, Economic Leaflet, College
of Business Administration, U. of Fla,, Gainesville, November, 1945.
population, and future opportunities for economic, social and personal develop-
ment will be determined largely by the spirit of critical inquiry with which
action programs are evaluated.
At present evidence points strongly toward continued human migrations.
Florida is in a most favored position, by reason of its climate and agricultural
possibilities, to attract and retain large numbers of people looking for new
homes and employment opportunities. If a well-rounded agricultural system, as
well as the development of manufPeturing, trade and servic- occupations, is
approached with the full recognition of the problems ahead the orderly and
progressive growth of Florida seems assured.
Exp. Sta., Ag. Ec., 50