October 11, 2009

THE BITTER REALITY FOR THE DECLINISTS IS THAT WE HAVE A HOUSING SHORTAGE:

Beware of America's housing crisis - huh? (Ben Wattenberg and Michael Sriqui, 10/11/09, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

In America, alone among today's wealthy nations, is on a path of solid population growth. This is good, notwithstanding the harum-scarum alarms by those who see disaster impending from a "population explosion."

The U.S. population was approaching 300 million in 2000. Quite solid projections by the Census Bureau see the number at about 400 million people in 2100.

Why is the U.S. growing, while other modern nations shrivel up? First, our total fertility rate is about 2.1 children per woman - a magic number in the demographer's kit, because that's what it takes to "replace" a society. Sooner or later, Mom and Dad pass on (sorry to break the news), and they must be "replaced" by two children. The extra 0.1 accounts for children who do not live to reproductive age.

A strong relationship exists between America's "replacement fertility" families and what/where they call home. Much more than their counterparts in Europe and Japan, Americans inhabit single-family detached houses. There is room for two, three - or more - children to play in the backyard, and the nice sense of privacy those children have because they live in their own rooms. Residents of other large, modern and wealthy nations tend to live in apartment nations, where space limitations put a damper on the idea of having a big family.

The coming housing boom will not only employ carpenters, electricians and roofers, but real estate lawyers, policemen and firemen, teachers and athletic coaches to begin a very long list. It was once said that the automobile industry was the great American job producer. No more. That honor surely goes to housing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2009 7:30 AM
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