A New Look at Old Demographic Myths

Martin Walker of the Woodrow Wilson Center describes some surprising demographic trends. Contrary to popular belief, birth rates have risen in northern Europe and the United States in recent years and fallen across much of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In fact, the fertility rate in the United States is at its highest level since 1971. In contrast, China’s birth rate has fallen so significantly that, “In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China.” [%comments]


Of course the article fails to mention differential fertility between longtime European and US residents and immigrants from those very same Middle East and Latin American countries.


Yeah, but who is having the babies in England and France? Seems like that would be important to know.

Matthew R.

"... the total depen­d­ency ratios of the 21st century are going to look remarkably similar to those of the 1960s. In the United States, the most onerous year for dependency was 1965, when there were 95 dependents for every 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 64. That occurred be­cause “dependents” includes people both younger and older than working age. .... There is nothing outlandish about having almost as many dependents as working ­adults."

All dependents aren't created equal. My dependent baby lives in a crib, has small healthcare needs, and is content with hand-me-downs. My dependent parent has far greater needs, costs, wants, etc. Additionally, my dependent parent votes, whereas my dependent baby doesn't. Dependent adults have a far greater economic impact than dependent children, and have potential for even greater impact than that.

C. Larity

Well, if you believe media impacts reality, I have two words for you: Duggar family (or the Jon and Kate plus 8 family, or the unemployed mother of octuplets).

So GM, Ford, Chrysler, if you're listening, here's how you save your companies: The maxi-van. Like a minivan, but seats 25. Trust me on this.

Sam Carter

Any prediction that's 40 years away is completely worthless, especially about something that's dependent on human behavior and choices. It reminds me of this classic article from the Economist about the infinite number of razor blades:


Bobby G

I agree with Sam .

Using a new trend (5-10 years old) to predict 40 years into the future is pretty worthless... as the current "trend" would indicate, the trend should change 5-10 times before we get there!