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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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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Thursday, December 27, 2018

U.S. Population Growth Hits an 80-Year Low

Thanks to Rubén Rumbaut for pointing me to a nice summary of U.S. demographic trends by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey. The U.S. Census Bureau recently came out with its year-end summary of what happened between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, and Bill gets right to the point--we're getting older and slowing down. Yes, I mean all of us, but this applies generally to the U.S. population.
Their data show that the national rate of population growth is at its lowest since 1937, a result of declines in the number of births, gains in the number of deaths, and that the nation’s under age 18 population has declined since the 2010 census. This is on the heels of recently released data showing geographic mobility within the U.S. is at a historic low. And while some states—particularly in the Mountain West—are growing rapidly, nearly a fifth of all states displayed absolute population losses over the past two years.
Here's what it looks like graphically:

As the baby boomers move into the older ages, the number of deaths is increasing, and since younger women are delaying having babies (and may have fewer than previous generations), and fewer immigrants are coming into the country, we are growing very slowly. This is probably good for the environment, but it introduces a lot of potentially unwelcome changes that we may all be coping with for the rest of our lives.
This week’s release of census estimates appears to put an exclamation point on what we should be preparing for as the country ages and grows less rapidly from natural increase. The latest national growth rate of 0.62 percent is noticeably below what we have experienced in decades prior. While it is still far higher than in countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan, it means that policymakers must place increased attention on caring for a larger and more dependent aging population, and dealing with the realities of a slower-growing labor force. In particular, it requires a more serious discussion of U.S. immigration policy because of the future contributions that immigrants will make to growing America’s society and economy.
I couldn't agree more. Immigration policy should be the #1 topic under discussion by Congress when they reconvene--right after they get the budget back on track and continue the funding of the Census Bureau!

1 comment:

  1. Immmigration is not the best way to care for an increasingly old population. That would be like a ponzi scheme. The US labor force is potentially much larger than now if you increase the labour market participation rate - even with the present average retirement age. And if you raise the retirement age it is even larger. That increases taxes and delay the need for social security. Look to certain European countries like Denmark (though not France). Fred Vestergaard, Copenhagen