Despite its high birth rate and low death rate, Utah County's population is projected to grow at a slower rate than the state's population over the next 12 years, says a United Way study that assesses human needs throughout the county.

The $27,000 study, prepared by United Way's Community Planning Committee, projects the county's population growth rate through the year 2000 at 1.32 percent annually, compared to 1.70 percent statewide.Nevertheless, Utah County's birth rate of 25.4 per 1,000 population in 1986 was much higher than the state's 21.8 rate or the nation's rate of 15.5. Conversely, the county's death rate of 4.3 per thousand in 1986 was much lower than the rate for the state or nation - 5.3 and 8.7, respectively.

Utah County's average household size of 3.58 members in 1985 also exceeded both the state average, 3.2, and the national average, 2.69.

More people are moving out of Utah County than are moving in, but that net migration outward is offset by a slightly higher natural population increase (births minus deaths).

The county's rapid growth in the 1970s and early 1980s has yielded a young population, the study says. According to the study, approximately 57 percent of the population is 24 or younger.

As a result, per-pupil education expenditures have risen steadily the past several years. However, county expenditures are 42 percent below the national average and are 9 percent below the state average.

Utah County's population is expected to follow national trends, growing older during the next few decades. About 12 percent of the county's population was 55 or older in 1985; by 2010, that figure is expected to reach 17 percent.

Population growth is distributed throughout the county. But the study, using information from the Bureau of Census, shows that Provo is not experiencing any significant population growth.

In 1980, Provo's population was 74,111. Two years later it was 77,474, but by 1984, the population had dropped to 74,138. Orem, meanwhile, grew from 52,399 in 1980 to 56,418 in 1982 and to 60,884 by 1984. American Fork, Pleasant Grove and Lehi also showed significant growth.

Utah County is racially homogenous: 97 percent of the population is white.

In addition, "Utah County has a high proportion of married-couple families and a low proportion of single-parent, female-headed households compared with the state and nation," the study says. However, the proportion of female-headed households with no husband is increasing in the county, the study says.

Population projections

1980 1985 1990 1995 2000

Utah County 220,000 250,000 262,000 272,700 281,000

State of Utah* 1.47 1.64 1.77 1.90 2.01

*In millions