Fun With Numbers Until It Isn’t
How often do you get to say, “It has been an interesting week in demography?” Pretty much never so it is best to seize the moment.
Congressman Don Young of Alaska made an infelicitous public comment that used the term “wetbacks” presumably telegraphing his view on immigration.
Susan Patton, President of the Princeton class of 1977, suggested in a letter to the editor that undergraduate Princeton women do their husband hunting while at college then spent the rest of the week defending herself.
Hazelton, Pennsylvania, a town of 25,000 in the Poconos that appears to have seen better days, wants its former mayor (now a Congressman) Lou Barletta to “chase them all out.” In 2006, then-Mayor Barletta got a law passed making it very unpleasant for Hispanics to stay there.
Meanwhile various collections of Congressmen and Senators tried to hammer out a bill to fix our busted immigration system.
Be careful what you wish for.
It takes 2.1 children per mother for a population to stay even (one to replace Dad, one to replace Mom and the last 0.1 devoted to bone-headed guy moves that take them out of the game before replacing themselves). No country that fell below 1.9 births per mother has ever recovered. Along the way you get too many old people and too few younger ones to support them. Drop below 1.3 and the math says the population can’t recover.
Where is America today? 1.93 And for those Princeton women to whom Ms. Patton addressed her controversial letter? 1.6 (actually that is for white female college graduates). Jonathan Last calls it America’s Baby Bust and says it might contribute toward explaining the slower-than-expected recovery from the recent recession.
How about this number? 97% of the world’s population lives in a country where the fertility rate is falling. Among the 10 largest world economies, the average fertility rates between 2005 and 2010 were China 1.64, Japan 1.32, Germany 1.36, France 1.97, Brazil 1.9, UK 1.83, Italy 1.38, Russian Federation 1.44 and India 2.73. Japan now sells more diapers for adults than babies.
It is safe to say that there are more political strategists, pollsters, fund-raisers and message-crafters than there are demographers in the room with our Congressmen and Senators as they deliberate about immigration. That could turn out to be unfortunate when we discover that “chasing them all out” was less than a clever plan, by which point it will be too late to fix it.
Since nothing else has worked why not try this? Delegate the nation’s immigration policy-making and implementation entirely to the admissions departments of the country’s 25 most respected colleges. They can be expected to be reliably left leaning, which is important to some, and they are really, really good at choosing the most talented people for whom we will find ourselves competing.
Call it the Importing Future Taxpayers Act to keep the spenders happy.