Michigan’s population will see more people dying than being born by 2050, a demographic reality undermining Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempts to maintain more than 10 million residents in Michigan.

The governor’s efforts are facing an uphill battle that could result in more than a 700,000 decline in population over the next 26 years. At least one economist asserts Whitmer’s policies are partially to blame.

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The projections for a declining population come from Michigan’s official demographers, the Michigan Center for Data and Analytics. The MCDA paints a pretty grim picture for the state at mid-century.

The study predicts more Michigan residents will die than those born in 2038, a mere 14 years from now. Outbound migration will also likely play a contributing factor.

Michigan’s birthrate in 2022 was 100,800 babies, less than half the number born in the state in 1957. That number is projected to drop more than 20% by 2050 (80,000 births).

Annual deaths in the Great Lakes States are expected to rise to 138,000 between 2023 and 2047, an increase of more than 35%.

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Deaths outnumbering births is referred to in the report as “natural decrease,” which may or may not be mitigated or exacerbated by the state’s inbound and outbound migration rates.

“Since Michigan is projected to maintain a trajectory of steepening natural decrease, in the near future population growth will depend entirely on Michigan maintaining net positive migration,” the report’s analysts write. “Michigan is more likely to grow in the next decade when rates of natural decrease will be relatively low and more easily offset by net positive migration. However, after natural decrease crosses -25,000 annually around 2034, it will become increasingly challenging for the state to maintain the annual level of net migration needed for population growth.”

Last summer, Whitmer established through an Executive Order the Growing Michigan Together Council to address the state’s dwindling population, but Mackinac Center for Public Policy Senior Director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative Michael LaFaive said the governor’s policies are partially responsible for Michigan’s outbound migration.

“Outbound migration will continue to be an issue, and I suspect accelerate unless our state makes an about-face in its policy choices,” LaFaive told The Midwesterner. He noted 15,051 more Michigan residents moved to other states than moved in from 2022 to 2023. This 0.2% loss was the 15th worst among the states.

“For example, repeal of our right-to-work law alone will be harmful. From 2010 to 2020 4.5 million people have moved from non-right-to-work to right-to-work states. That’s unlikely to be a coincidence,” he said.

LaFaive began monitoring Michigan’s population decline during the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm between 2003 and 2011. During that era, the state said goodbye to 54,000 former residents. Granholm’s watch was the only decade when the state experienced a decreased population.

“It’s not the only bad policy choice that has been adopted lately that will make outbound migration more appealing to those who live here,” LaFaive continued. “Economics 101 tells us if you raise the price of anything less will be demanded of it. So, if lawmakers raise the cost of living, working, and creating jobs we’ll get less living in Michigan, fewer jobs, and less wealth too.”