Posted by | May 17, 2012 21:06 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Alan posted on the Census report about how Caucasian births are now a minority in the United States.  I want to emphasize one of the benefits of this demographic trend.  In Europe right now, the debate is between growth and austerity.  Austerity is likely to be destructive, leading to a recession that never ends.  But growth is problematic for Europe, as Megan McArdle has noted:

Unfortunately, growth (or at least the sustainable variety) is typically a long time in the baking, and dependent on two main ingredients: more workers and higher worker productivity. And much of Europe is short on the former. That has big implications for Europe’s future.

With low birth rates and little immigration, Europe has fewer workers to support more non-workers.  The US could find itself in a similar dilemma, except we have a way out:

And the fact that the country is getting a burst of births from nonwhites is a huge advantage, argues Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning and demography at the University of Southern California. European societies with low levels of immigration now have young populations that are too small to support larger aging ones, exacerbating problems with the economy.

“If the U.S. depended on white births alone, we’d be dead,” Mr. Myers said. “Without the contributions from all these other groups, we would become too top-heavy with old people.”

Our diversity has always been a strength but now the diversity provided by immigrants is more necessary than ever.  It’s the key to economic growth and escaping the trap that Europe (and Japan) find themselves in.

By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.