January 24, 2010

SURE, POLITICIANS AND PUNDITS MAKE THEMSELVES FEEL MORE IMPORTANT BY IMAGINING THAT WE HAVE RIVALS TO CONTEND WITH...:

he Kids Will Be Alright (Joel Kotkin, 01/23/2010, New Geography)

America's population growth makes it a notable outlier among the advanced industrialized countries. The country boasts a fertility rate 50% higher than that of Russia, Germany or Japan and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, North Korea and virtually all of eastern Europe. Add to that the even greater impact of continued large-scale immigration to America from around the world. By the year 2050, the U.S. population will swell by roughly 100 million, and the country's demographic vitality will drive its economic resilience in the coming decades.

This places the U.S. in a radically different position from that of its historic competitors, particularly Europe and Japan, whose populations are stagnant. The contrast between the U.S. and Russia, America's onetime primary rival for world power, is particularly dramatic. Some 30 years ago, Russia constituted the core of a vast Soviet empire that was considerably more populous than the U.S. Today, even with its energy riches, Russia's low birth and high mortality rates suggest that its population will drop to less than one-third that of the U.S. by 2050. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken of "the serious threat of turning into a decaying nation."

An equally dramatic and perhaps more critical demographic shift is taking place in East Asia. Over the past few decades a rapid expansion of their work force fueled the rise of the "East Asian tigers," the great economic success stories of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Yet that epoch is coming to an end, not only in Japan and Korea but also in China, where the one-child policy has set the stage for a rapidly aging population by mid-century.

Within the next four decades, most of the developed countries in both Europe and East Asia will become veritable old-age homes: A third or more of their populations will be over 65, compared with only a fifth in America. Like the rest of the developed world, the U.S. will certainly have to cope with an aging population and lower population growth, but in relative terms the county will boast a youthful, dynamic demographic.

As many other advanced countries become dominated by the elderly, the U.S. will have the benefit of a millennial baby boom as the "echo boomers" start having offspring in large numbers later in this decade. This next surge in growth may be delayed if tough economic times continue, but over time the rise in births will add to the work force, boost consumer spending and allow for new creative inputs.


,,,but the fact is our task is just to manage their decline. We're decades away from the period of maximum lopsidedness in American global domination.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2010 12:28 AM
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