[lit-ideas] 300 million! Yippee!

  • From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 21:49:50 -0700

The US passed the 300-million mark this morning. There are now 300 million people in the USA.


(...) What's been going on, in a word, is immigration. A growing percentage of Americans are foreign-born. And they are spreading from traditional hot spots such as California to every corner of the United States.

Without this influx of immigrants, the United States and California, its most populous state, would be following the path of many industrialized countries that are seeing their populations stagnate and age as women have fewer children.

When the nation marked 200 million people in 1967, only 5 percent of the population was foreign-born. That changed dramatically in the wake of the Immigration and Naturalization Services Act of 1965, when Congress abolished quotas that limited the number of immigrants arriving from certain nations, particularly in Asia.

About 12 percent of the nation is currently foreign-born -- less than the 15 percent peak in 1910, but a far greater share than in the late '60s. And while it took the nation 52 years to grow from 100 million to 200 million people, the United States reached 300 million in just 39 years. The Census Bureau says it will reach 400 million even more quickly, by 2043.

Since the 1990s, new arrivals have spread out beyond California to corners of America that had few or no immigrants for much of the 20th century.

In 1990, almost half the counties in the United States were more than 99 percent native-born, including vast swaths of the South and the Midwest. By 2000, just one-quarter of the nation's counties were devoid of immigrants, as Latinos and other immigrant groups followed work to states like North Carolina, according to an analysis of census data by the Population Reference Bureau, a research group in Washington, D.C.

However, in many other industrialized countries without a significant number of immigrants the problem isn't growth, it's contraction.

In Germany, legislators are worried about their country becoming, in Frey's words, a ``geriatric ghetto.'' They are considering a plan to pay women who leave the workforce to have a child about $2,500 a month. In Spain, there are only half as many children younger than 5 than people in their parents' age group.

"You can't go back now and say, "Oops, we forgot to have kids,"" said Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau. He said those countries are headed for a time when one-third of the population will be older than 65.


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