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A Changing Kansas (June 2018)

Implications for Health and Communities

By Charles Hunt, M.P.H., Lawrence John Panas, Ph.D. | June 05, 2018

A Changing Kansas (June 2018)

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The population of Kansas is growing more slowly than the population of the U.S. as a whole, and it is aging and becoming increasingly diverse, according to a study commissioned and released by the Kansas Health Foundation, and authored and produced by the Kansas Health Institute.

Perhaps more eye-opening is what the state will look like in the future, should recent trends continue. While the overall population of Kansas is projected to increase by approximately 25 percent by 2066, the growth will be concentrated in urban areas. Rural counties are projected to experience a continued population decrease of 19.9 percent in the western part of the state and 32.1 percent in the eastern part of the state.

Not only will nearly every part of the state be older, Kansas will be much more racially and ethnically diverse than it is today. By 2066, the Hispanic, Any Race population is projected to nearly quadruple, increasing by more than 970,000 residents. At some point between 2061 and 2066, Kansas is projected to become a majority, minority state, meaning that less than half of the population will be non-Hispanic White.

Population projections for the study were based on research by the Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

Because Kansas will look so different over the next 20 to 50 years, these trends and projections will have substantial impacts on every aspect of our society. In addition to higher rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, which will put additional strain on our public health and health care systems, local governments in rural communities will find it increasingly difficult to fund and provide essential services as their tax bases continue to shrink. State and local leaders must engage with communities on how to address these challenges.