In 2019, before the pandemic, births were about 22% higher than deaths in the six-county Little Rock metropolitan statistical area, according to Metroplan, the central Arkansas planning agency. In 2021, that margin fell to 3.2%. And in Arkansas as a whole in 2021, total deaths exceeded total births by 11.5%.
“Births and deaths were converging even before the pandemic hit,” Metroplan noted last month in its “Metro Trends: Demographic Review and Outlook” report. “The number of deaths has a lot to do with the age, size, and health of the population, so a slow rise in total deaths pre-Covid was pretty normal. Birth rates have been steadily dropping for many years, although overall population growth has allowed some growth in total births even as the rate of births per woman dropped.”
Based on this year’s trends, “deaths in 2022 will come in lower than in 2021. Regional population will continue growing, but more slowly than in the past.”