Alarm! “US to face underpopulation”

The population ponziteers are at it again, this time warning that the US is facing “underpopulation” because its birth rate has fallen to a 35 year low:

The U.S. birth rate in 2019 fell to its lowest level in 35 years, well below the requisite 2.1 babies per woman required to sustain our population through birth alone. Researchers expect this trend to continue into 2020 and 2021…

The U.S. population is now more than 330 million people. And globally, it’s nearly 7.8 billion. Researchers point to immigration as an easy way to protect size of the U.S. population…

The global population is expected to peak at 9.7 billion by 2064 and then fall back down to 8.8 billion by 2100. Allowing for more immigration to the U.S. will help maintain a steady flow of workers and consumers, supporting economic growth…

“At the end of the day, people matter. So the more people there are, the more economic activity there is,” said Levine.

Thankfully, demographer Joseph Chamie has dismantled this argument at The Hill, describing it as “ponzi demography”:

With the release of end-of-year and end-of-decade U.S. population estimates, Ponzi demography is again appearing in news headlines, economic reports and investment commentaries around the country.

The basic message that advocates of Ponzi demography want Americans to swallow is: economic growth requires population growth. But like all pyramid schemes, Ponzi demography is a scam.

Vested interests, including many market economists, investment advisers, business leaders and even political opportunists are again ringing alarm bells over reported declining U.S. population growth.

Recent headlines include, “America’s population growth slows to a crawl”, “U.S. population growth smallest in at least 120 years” and “U.S. on pace for slowest growth since Spanish Flu and economic impact is already evident.” Others stress that the 2020’s projection for the U.S. population will likely close out the slowest decade of population growth in the nation’s history…

Ponzi demography is basically a pyramid scheme that aims to make more money for some by adding more people through population growth (i.e., natural increase and immigration).

The underlying strategy of Ponzi demography is straightforward: privatize profits and socialize costs incurred from increased population growth…

The standard slogan in this campaign is “the country urgently needs increased immigration,” even when unemployment is high…

Taking into account fertility, mortality and migration, the U.S. population has been growing since its founding. America’s population has increased each decade since the first census in 1790, exceeding 50 million by 1880, 100 million by 1920, 200 million by 1970 and 300 million by 2010.

During the 21st century, America’s population increased by 10 percent in the first decade and is projected to have increased by 8 percent between 2010 and 2020, from 309 million to 333 million.

America’s population is projected to continue growing, reaching more than 400 million by 2060. Some would like to see America’s population become even larger than the projected figure, perhaps even reaching 1 billion, an admittedly impossible outcome for the foreseeable future.

Ponzi demography advocates avoid addressing the question of how long America’s population should continue to grow. The reason for this is largely because they would like high rates of U.S. population growth to extend well beyond the foreseeable future.

When confronted with environmental concerns such as climate change, global warming, environmental contamination, pollution or shortages of water and other vital natural resources, promoters of Ponzi demography typically dismiss such concerns as alarmist or argue that such concerns are best addressed by a growing population.

Ponzi demography’s advocacy for higher population growth for America is ultimately unsustainable. Higher population growth will hamper efforts to improve the quality of life for today’s Americans as well as for future generations.

In brief, slower U.S. population growth is not alarming. Moving gradually towards population stabilization, as recommended more than 50 years ago by the U.S. Commission on Population and the American Future, is not a panacea for America’s problems. However, it will make it far easier to address problems such as climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, homelessness, extreme socio-economic inequalities and human rights abuses.

We could do with Joseph Chamie in Australia, where mass immigration and ‘ponzi demography’ has infested all sides of politics and captured the mainstream media.

Unconventional Economist
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