Population & Demographics of the State of Georgia

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Georgia is a very important state in the US, and often represents national trends. In this lesson, we'll look at Georgia's changing population and see what this says about the future of the state.

Demographics of Georgia

The United States has a single national capital, but also has several unofficial cultural capitals spread across the country. One of the historically important cultural centers of the South is the state of Georgia.

Georgia has played a very important role in defining Southern culture and life for generations, so it's an important place for us to look when examining changes in the American South.

That notion is especially important now. Georgia is one of the fastest-growing Southern states, and in fact one of the fastest growing states in the entire country. As it grows, its population is also starting to shift, and that could signify big changes for the South.

Who Lives in Georgia?

So, what does Georgia's population actually look like? This Southern state is home to roughly 10 million people, as of 2016 estimates. That's a 4.3% increase since 2010. By comparison, the national population growth of the United States is lingering at around 0.8% per year. So, Georgia's population is growing much quicker than the national average.

The population of Georgia is steadily increasing
Georgia population

A lot of these people are moving into urban areas. Georgia, which was a traditionally rural state, is now 75% urban. That's up 15% since urbanization really took off around 1970. So, not only are people moving to Georgia but they're moving to the cities.

That's where many people see the economic future of the state and the best economic opportunities. Right now, Atlanta (the state capital) is the largest city in Georgia, with a population of roughly 447,000. The greater metro area has a total population of over 5,700,000.

Diversity in Georgia

One of the interesting things about Georgia's population growth is the impact its had on the state's diversity. Georgia has long been a population with a large white majority, and a substantial black minority.

However, recent population growth has begun to shift this balance. Over 70% of people 65 and older in Georgia self-identify as non-Hispanic white. The average age of white citizens in Georgia is around 40, while the average age of Latinos is only around 25.

So, what does this mean? It means that most of Georgia's population growth is coming from non-white populations. African American birthrates/rates of immigration are higher than white populations, as are Latino rates.

These communities are younger as well, suggesting a population growth trend that should continue into the future. Demographers call this a demographic tipping point, when one population may lose majority status within a generation or two.

Reports from 2016 indicate that:

  • About 60% of people in Georgia self-identify as white. That's a majority, but not huge one.
  • 30% of Georgians identify as black, which is more than double the national average
  • 8% identify as Latino
  • 3% identify as Asian

That Latino population is particularly interesting here: 23% of the state's population growth between 2000 and 2009 came from Latinos. Most of these people moved into Georgia from elsewhere, creating a fear of illegal immigration in the state, although realistically only 6% of this population was born in a foreign country.

This is consistent with national averages. Across the country, 80% of people 65 or older are non-Hispanic white, while only 54% of children identify the same way.

Georgia, like many other states, has adopted various anti-immigration policies designed to slow this trend, but the implications of such laws could go beyond racial statistics. Some organizations have estimated that reducing immigration could cost the state between $300 million and $1 billion in revenue.

Other Statistics

Of course, these are only a small number of the demographic facts that define Georgia's population. There are others to consider as well.

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