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West Virginia and China, so far apart in most ways, have one glaring similarity. For very different reasons, both have significant population declines that affect current and future economic conditions.

West Virginia’s population boom occurred in the first five years after World War II. In 1950, it peaked at just over 2 million. The long gradual decline began quietly in the late 1950s and has continued with an occasional growth spurt such as 1975-77.

Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist and regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch opinion page. Her email address is

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