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.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Immigrants Continue to Contribute to the "Birthing" of America

Preface: I want to offer a deeply sincere "thank you" to everyone who supported me, directly and indirectly, through my recent near-death experience. I am very pleased to report that I am nearly back to full health, and I quite literally wouldn't be here without a lot of help from a lot of people. I am very appreciative! 

Now--back to business: In my last posting, exactly two months ago(!), I was noting that the birth rate in Switzerland was up, but in the U.S. it was down. Nonetheless, the birth rate in the U.S. is still higher than in Switzerland--hovering just below replacement level instead of being well below replacement level. Of course, as I point out in my text, and as I have often written in this blog, the U.S. birth rate would look more like Switzerland and other very low fertility countries were it not for the contribution of immigrants. Thanks to my long-time friend and colleague RubĂ©n Rumbaut for pointing me to an article in this week's Economist that uses data from Pew Research to remind us yet again of the demographic importance of immigration.
For decades America’s birth rate has been stuck below the level at which a given generation replaces itself. This means that without a steady influx of young migrants down the line there will be fewer working-age people supporting a greater number of retirees. But according to analysis published earlier this week by the Pew Research Centre in Washington, DC, things would have been worse if it weren’t for immigrants. They make up 13% of the population but nearly a quarter of births in 2015 were to immigrant women.
This is happening all over the country, not just in a few select states like California, Texas, and Nevada, as you can in the graphic below:

Donald Trump's rhetoric against immigrants is not a new phenomenon, of course. His grandfather was an immigrant, but like so many people over the years, he wants to close the door behind his family of immigrants. And what happened to the birth rate the last time we slammed the door on immigrants back in the late 1920s? Yes, you remember--the birth rate dropped below replacement level and there was a lot of concern about depopulation in the United States. American became "great again" in the decades after World War II when we opened the door again to refugees and other immigrants.