May 24, 2012


America's 21st-Century Population Edge: Birth rates are dropping all over the world, often below replacement rates. But not in the U.S. (BEN J. WATTENBERG, 5/23/12, WSJ)

Every other major modern nation and every developing country has low or falling birth rates. Japan and Poland see 1.3 children per woman, Brazil and China 1.9, Pakistan 3.6 (down from 6.6 three decades ago). American fertility rates are relatively high, at nearly 2.1.

Having children is an affirmative act, so it's little surprise that surveys--Gallup, Harris and others--show Americans to be the most optimistic nation in the world. (Israel, too, is an optimistic nation with a sense of mission and high birth rates.)

Then there's the effect of immigration. According to the United Nations and the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. takes in more immigrants than the rest of the world combined. Think Albert Einstein, Madeleine Albright, Andy Grove, Albert Pujols, Sergei Brin, I.M. Pei or David Hockney.

Drive in the suburbs and exurbs of many major American cities and you will see McMansion homes with three, four or even five children--McPlenty--unheard of anywhere else. American couples can choose to have many children because the U.S. is one of the world's few suburban nations. In suburban settings, some affluent parents are deciding that for a decade or so raising a large family is more important than having two earners.

All this and more yields an America that is projected to have 400 million people in 2050, up from 310 million today and possibly on the way to 500 million by 2100. This may not quite play out--immigration from Mexico will likely fall as Mexican fertility drops off--but the trend lines are far stronger in the U.S. than elsewhere.

And as the rest of the world tanks, the pull of the Anglosphere will only grow stronger.

Posted by at May 24, 2012 5:48 AM

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