22 December, 2010

BBC's and research at Uof London's take on Why the US outstrips Europe for population growth

The US growth rate over the past decade still exceeds that of China (6%), Britain and France (5%), Japan (near zero) and Germany (which experienced a small decline).

The immigrant inflow to the US has also compensated for the ageing of the native population once the post-war baby boom bulge of 1945-65 receded.

In 1950, the American age-structure showed width at the bottom among the under-30 bands and was narrowest in the oldest bands.

In 2000, the middle bands (35-54 years) were the widest, as the baby-boom bulge worked its way through the age structure. By 2050, the older bands (55 years and above) will have widened significantly, but will be supported by still wider pre-30 age bands.

This will keep the US median age around 35-38 years at mid-century, but the most pessimistic estimates suggest that the EU median will exceed 52 years (compared to 37.7 years in 2003).

This could result by mid-century in a doubling of the ratio of retirees to workers that would have serious consequences for economic productivity, pension benefits and public programmes.

As the non-white population grows, the advantage could shift decisively to the Democrats, even in states today considered Red.

If this were the case, the presently rock-ribbed Republican state of Texas may be the first to feel the effects of demographic change on its partisan leaning.

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