Population growth positive for economy

Freedom New Mexico

A Census Bureau report this month predicting a significant increase in population and in the percentage of ethnic minorities in the United States made big news. The bigger news may be how little Americans should be worrying over the trends.

The bureau projects that by 2050, the U.S. population will be 44 percent white, 30 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black and 8 percent Asian.

In the past, some conservatives, and even some environmentalists, have used demographic projections to press for tighter border security. But their arguments may well be off the mark.

“America’s changes will be less than we think. We’ve already become a more open, dynamic country,” said Dan Griswold, an immigration expert with the libertarian Cato Institute. “What will happen to America is what has already been happening to California, Texas, New York City, and other economically successful regions.”

By many accounts, immigration has improved employment and productivity while increasing the flexibility of U.S. labor markets. According to Wall Street Journal writer Jason Riley, most immigrants assimilate quickly because they share American values of freedom, hard work, and democracy. Employment and homeownership — both good indications of assimilation — are up among immigrants. The 2000 census also reports that 91 percent of the second-generation and 97 percent of the third-generation immigrants speak English well.

The gradual assimilation seen in the Hispanic population similarly occurred with the Germans and Irish in the 19th century and southeastern Europeans and Chinese in the 20th century. Like today’s Hispanic immigrants, most of these immigrants were poor and unskilled. There is an argument that immigration strains social programs, but the root problem isn’t immigration — it’s the Nanny State social programs themselves.

The aging U.S. population actually may constitute a bigger problem than immigration, given that among the white population those over age 65 is expected to double. However, the Hispanic population will remain young and vital, with minorities expected to constitute a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds by 2028. The increase in immigration and birth rate among Hispanics will actually slightly delay the Social Security crisis.

All in all, the growing population can be viewed as a boon: It allows America to stay younger than European and Asian countries, which are facing social and economic problems due to declining birth rates and aging populations. That means the U.S. will have a larger labor force and a greater demand for commodities, which will, in turn, promote economic growth. In this view, the Census Bureau forecast foretells a promising future.