According to recent media accounts, America is in a population death spiral. Open-borders activists have seized on the narrative to promote ever-looser immigration policies.
But the narrative is wrong.
In fact, women in the U.S. are more likely to be mothers than in the past, and they are having more children, reports the Pew Research Center.
The Pew study found that women have 2.07 children during their lives on average – up from 1.86 in 2006, the lowest on record. Family size is also up. In 2016, mothers at the end of their childbearing years had had about 2.42 children, compared with 2.31 in 2008.
So, what about those dire warnings of a U.S. population collapse?
The Pew analysis is properly calculated on a cumulative measure of lifetime fertility — the number of births a woman has ever had. Reports of alleged declining U.S. fertility are based on less accurate annual rates, which only capture fertility at one point in time.
In fact, the share of U.S. women at the end of their childbearing years who have ever given birth was higher in 2016 than 10 years earlier. Not only are women more likely to be mothers than in the past, but they are having more children.
As Donna Strobino, a professor of population, family and reproductive health at the Johns Hopkins University, puts it: Women are delaying having children, rather than not having children at all.
These are inconvenient truths for neo-mercantilists trying to exploit the media’s simple-minded herd instinct and the misplaced compassion of immigration enthusiasts to advance a population fetish.
For all the alarmist rhetoric about its impending collapse, America’s population has swelled from 203 million in 1970 to more than 328 million this year, with no end in sight.
The U.S. is the third most populous country on Earth, behind India and China. Its annual population growth rate is 0.7 percent – between China’s 0.39 percent and India’s 1.11 percent.
Immigration clearly enters into the equation here. Pew reports that nearly a quarter of U.S. births in 2014 were to foreign-born mothers, and about a third of those were to illegal aliens.
So how many more millions should the United States welcome aboard? It’s a crucial question; a dispassionate answer will be based on the cost-benefits to America, and the impact on this country’s environment and institutions. Scaremongering about a supposed scarcity of service workers and Social Security contributors is not the basis for sound policy when demographic data don’t support the story line.