AUSTIN (KXAN) - What will Texas look like in 2030? According to one researcher it will be a lot more crowded.
During a presentation Monday at the Texas Transportation Forum in Austin, Dr. Mike Cline from Rice University said Texas' recent population boom could continue and make it the most populous state in the country.
That's no small feat. Right now, it is the second largest in the country with 26 million residents. Texas still has 12 million fewer people than California.
But by 2030, Cline says if trends continue, that could change.
"We've more than doubled our population between 1970 and 2010," said Cline. "We expect to double that population by 2050."
"[Growth] certainly has been a challenge in the past and will be a challenge going forward," said Cline.
Cline said there will be new opportunities thanks to the expanding population.
"Usually people look at population as an indicator of economic success," said Cline.
Much of the expansion will occur in the urban centers of Texas especially in the Rio Grande valley and the Texas Triangle, the area between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio over to Houston.
The denser population will also create new challenges. Texans in the future will be less spread out. In some parts of the state, the population will also likely be older.
New arrivals not the main cause
While the influx of people from other states and countries into Texas may seem like the cause of our population boom, it is only one part.
According to research at the University of Texas San Antonio, the population of Texas jumped by 4.2 million between 2000 and 2010. That's a 20.6 percent increase.
During that time, Texas' net migration was 1.7 million. Net migration is calculated by the number of people moving to the state subtracted by the number of people who moved away.
That 1.7 million made an impact on the state's population, but it was overshadowed by natural population growth.
A high birth rate with a low death rate made up for 54 percent of Texas' population growth from 2000 to 2010.
"It's just a matter of people being born, less people dying, and more people moving in than moving out," said Cline.
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