The Shrinking Growth of the U.S.A
As citizens of the Untied States, we know that we don’t live in the most perfect society. Yes we are considered the land of the free and the land were democracy reigns, but we do have our issues. Some issues aren’t as easy to see as others. It is one of those issues that will be discussed here. The population growth of the United States of America is beginning to shrink. In 2013, the U.S population increased by 0.7 percent. That seems pretty good right? Between 2009 and 2010, the population had grown by 0.9 percent, now that 0.7 percent doesn’t sound that great anymore. This pattern is projected to continue in the U.S as well. You may be are asking yourself, why is the population growth of the United States of America shrinking like this? Many researchers in this field have come up with three factors that seem to be playing a role in this decline. These factors include lower levels of immigration and migration, the aging of the population, and the declining fertility rate happening in the United States.
In the United States, immigration is an important part of population growth. Around the start of 2000, immigration had been estimated at about 1.4 million people. However that number has presently dropped to less than 900,000. Because of this drop, immigration went from contributing 40 percent of the United States’ population growth to only contributing 30 percent of the annual population growth. What is causing less immigration here in America? According to Mark Mather, “the decline in immigration has been linked to job losses in construction, manufacturing, and other occupations that are often filled by recent immigrants, as well as stricter immigration laws.” Basically, because job opportunities are becoming limited in the United States, less and less immigrants are coming here because one of the main reasons they come here is to make money. These declining job opportunities have especially caused a major drop in two big immigrant groups, the people from Latin America and Asia.
Latin Americans and Asians are the fastest growing minority groups in our population. However, they have also been declining in growth. In 2000, Latinos averaged 3.6 percent growth, however it fell to 2.5 percent, while the Asian Americans went from 3.6 percent to 2.2 percent. That causes a problem because if these groups are declining in growth and are the fastest growing, then the other minority, and even the majority, groups in the United States will most likely follow their pattern and keep on declining.
Internal migration is also a major influential factor. Not only is the population growth of the entire United States declining, but also the populations of the major cities in the United States. This is mainly due to the urbanization of a lot of areas of the United States that, prior to the creation of these major cities, weren’t. For example, in an article by Pamela Engel and Robert Wile titled “11 American Cities That Are Shells Of Their Former Selves”, it is outlined how 11 of the cities in the U.S have lost population, the most drastic of this being St, Louis, who’s population at was at it’s peak in 1950 with 856, 796 residents and dropped to 319, 294 in 2010, a decline of 62.7%. The reason that contributed to this was mainly the disastrous urban renewal policies that sparked an intense wave of internal migration away from St. Louis to other areas.
In conclusion, if the decline of immigration continues, it is projected that the shrinking population growth of the U.S will not get any better, it will only get worse.
Another issue that has been causing the shrinking of the United States population growth is the aging population that is occurring presently, and growing. In our society, we had a generation of people called the baby boomers. This generation is moving into the elderly sector of our society, which is why the number of senior citizens is expected to double over the three decades from the current 35.9 million to 70 million, according to an article in the Associated Press titled “Ageism in America”. The aging baby boomer generation is creating a gap in the population, because as they are entering retirement, data shows that there are fewer people of reproductive age to make up for the aging members of our society, which can be seen in this graph:
In conclusion, with this age gap increasing, our declining population growth is projected to continue at over the course of the next three decades, at least.
According to Jonathan Last, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, “All energy goes out of society when fertility rates get low”. This is the what we are seeing start to happen to the United States. As our fertility rates begin to drop, our population growth drops with it. The fertility rate dropped from to 2.1 in 2008 to 1.88 in 2013, a record low. This is worrisome to many because it also relates back to the aging population problem. As the gap increases between the working age/reproductive members and retirees of our society, the economic burden of the children born in this year will be doubled from what it was for children born in 1985. This could lead to an even greater decline in fertility rate because children are expensive, and with the growing economic problems of our country paired with the age gap forming, the people of reproductive age in our society won’t have children simply because they can’t afford them, which will keep the decline in population growth strong and well in the United States. However, some believe that less fertility rate is a good thing because more people would only hurt the environment. To them, Jonathan Last says, “Population growth leads to human innovation, and innovation leads to conservation… There are no cases of peace and prosperity in the face of declining population growth”.
What are the 2030 Global Trends projections for the declining population growth? It is projected that in 2030, that the world population as a whole will reach 8.3 billion people (up from the 7.1 billion in 2012). As for its projections for countries like the United States, which is in stage 3 of the demographic transition, it predicts many things, all of which show us continuing are decline. Though the Global Trends projects that the advance of our median age and the increase of our seniors will proceed slowly, we still face a possibly of a decline in economic productivity and slower GDP growth due that growing number of seniors.
The Global Trends for 2030 projects that because of declining fertility rates, the number of countries with youthful populations is projected to fall to about 50, and the U.S falls into that category.
Based on what has been discussed here, I strongly believe that there is truth to these claims and projections for the United States by the year 2030. With our declining immigration, also a leading contributor to our fertility rate, we will obviously have less workers and reproducers in our country causing less births and a smaller population of younger people to counteract the expanding group of older people. That will in turn cause that gap that has formed to become bigger and will increase our median age as projected. In conclusion, all of these factors, the declining number of immigrants, the decreasing fertility rates, and the increasing number of elderly all tie into one another create the shrinking population growth in the United States and because of this the projections for 2030 don’t look very promising.
1) Maher, Mark. “What’s Driving the Decline in U.S. Population Growth?.” What’s Driving the Decline in U.S. Population Growth?. N.p., 6 May 2012. Web. . <http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2012/us-population-growth-decline.aspx>.
2) “Ageism in America.” msnbc.com. Associated Press, n.d. Web. . <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5868712/ns/health-aging/t/ageism-america/>.
3) Overberg, Paul . “As U.S. birth rate drops, concern for the future mounts.” USA Today. Gannett, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. . <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/12/us-births-decline/1880231/>.
4) Engel, Pamela, and Rob Wile. “11 American Cities That Are Shells Of Their Former Selves.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 26 June 2013. Web. . <http://www.businessinsider.com/american-cities-in-decline-2013-6>.
5) “Chapter 1: Megatrends.” Global trends 2030 alternative worlds. Washington, DC: NIC, 2012. . Print.