Wednesday, July 30, 2008

America is Doing Population Growth Right

The USA is the standout among industrialized populations. In the 1970s, our birthrate had drifted down to 1.7 kids per woman, as had happened in Europe. Europe kept going down, to the scary lows of 1.3 today. We, on the other hand, went back up. Currently the Total Fertility Rate of the United States is about 2.06 -- not quite replacement, but close.

In addition to having a respectable fertility rate, we do immigration right, as Ben Wattenberg writes in Fewer. We admit about 750,000 legal immigrants per year, and another quarter or half a million illegals. The illegal immigration is not, of course, "doing it right." Fixing that is a problem for another post. But the total number of immigrants we admit -- about a million a year, on a base of 300 million -- is a good number.

Alarmists claim we are being swamped by immigrants, but really we are absorbing the new Americans pretty well. Immigrants and their children make up a fifth of Americans today. In the 1920s, though, first and second generation immigrants made up a third of the U.S. population.

Immigrants have more kids than native-born Americans. Since our current TFR is a little low, this is a good thing. Yet the immigrants are not likely to bury the native-born demographically. Fertility rates fall to the national norm by the third generation. English speaking rises to national norms by the third generation. And intermarriage rates rise about 50% by the third generation for immigrants from Asia and Latin America.

The United States, alone among developed nations, is holding its population steady. It did so when world population was rising alarmingly, and is likely to do so now that world population may start to fall alarmingly.

1 comment:

jh79 said...

"Alarmists claim we are being swamped by immigrants..."

Given that official outlets have judged that America will be 30% Latino by mid-century, I don't think "alarmist" is the right word.

"In the 1920s, though, first and second generation immigrants made up a third of the U.S. population."

Those were immigrants from a great variety of nations, rather than the primarily monocultural (indeed, substantially mononational) immigration wave we're being subjected to today. Also, previous immigration waves occurred in a ferociously assimiliative culture, which has long been harried out of existence.

"Immigrants have more kids than native-born Americans."

MEXICAN immigrants have more kids than native-born Americans. Immigrants from nearly everywhere else, including most other Hispanic immigrants, have FEWER kids than native born Americans.

I quite doubt that America's capacity for assimilation is great enough to handle such a proportion of Latinos as is projected. Heck, who would be assimilating whom?

Luckily, all those official outlets have greatly mistaken the situation; in the next few years the Hispanic population will reach its peak share of the national population (if it hasn't already), and thence will decline. Illegal immigration has already begun to fall precipitously, and 10% of our illegals have self-deported in the past year. If Mexico (which is already a wealthy nation, by global standards) can get its domestic affairs in better order, and we can get someone, ANYONE, into the White House who's serious about border security, then in little more than a couple of decades the entire "Hispanic" population will basically melt into the general population, for the reasons you pointed out.

Also, the internal dynamics of non-Hispanic white fertility suggest that the current native-born tfr of 1.9 may rise during the 2010s to well above replacement level.

So, yes, we ARE doing population growth the right way (or will soon); mass immigration, however, comprises little part of that. Mass immigration is, emphatically and quintessentially, the wrong way.