This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Population Projections for the US

This week the US Census Bureau unveiled its population projections based on the 2010 census data. They underscore the point I make in Chapter 12 that the future is a foreign country. The New York Times coverage emphasized that the country will be a "plurality" country (meaning that no single racial/ethnic group will be in the majority) by 2043, whereas as early as 2018 the child population will be "majority minorty," meaning that non-Hispanic whites will no longer be in the majority.
“The next half century marks key points in continuing trends — the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” the bureau’s acting director, Thomas L. Mesenbourg, said in a statement.
The Economist focused more on the changing age structure and the problems created when the older population grows more quickly than the younger population.
Those 65 and over will grow to 22% of the population by 2060 from 14% now, while the working-age population slips to 57% from 63%.
These are not new stories, of course. The trends have been in place for some time, but they have been altered by the Great recession, with its attendant drop in the birth rate, and drop in immigration. Will these new trends stay in place? Probably not. Assuming that the economy rebounds even a bit, immigration will likely increase (indeed, history suggests that this will be a clue to the rebounding economy--the word gets out on "the street" pretty fast), and the birth rate won't be far behind.

Mentioned, but not highlighted, is the fact that this set of population projections suggests a smaller US population by the middle of this century than the Census Bureau had projected back in 2008. Given the enormously disproportionate impact on the planet of each person living in the US, this should be seen as good news.

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