California just had another flare-up of one of its chronic diseases:

Population overestimation.

I’ve written about this malady before.

We’re constantly overestimating how fast our population is growing. For years, we were going to reach 50 million by 2020. Then it was 2025. Gov. Brown has talked about us as if we were about to be a state of 50 million and needed to change our way of living, presumably casting off material things. (Gov. Schwarzenegger talked about 100 million people as if it were around the corner). And we keep repeating those figures, even as we live through an era of low birth rates and low population growth (it’s now well less than 1 percent annually).

We still haven’t even reached 40 million people. Though you wouldn’t know it from recent headlines declaring, “We’re 40 million.” These were occasioned by new state Department of Finance population figures showing that there are now 39.3 million Californians. At the current pace of population growth, we still have another three years before we get to 40 million. Maybe the headlines can wait til then.

Meanwhile, the official estimates of when we’ll reach the 50 million of so many imaginations is sometime after the year 2050. And that might be optimistic for a state with high costs, underfunded schools, onerous regulations on new businesses, and an inability to build enough housing to keep up with its very slow population growth.