NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Will Buck World Population Trends

March 9, 2001

The report issued by the United Nations Population Division last week painted a picture of a world population which will age and shrink over the next half-century. But one of the most surprising findings is that the U.S. will buck those trends. That suggests to some analysts that U.S. global influence will be enhanced in the years ahead.

Here are some of the ways the U.S. is diverging from the global scenario:

  • In the late 1990s, U.S. fertility levels were just about the highest in the developed world -- at just over two births per woman per lifetime compared with an average of 1.4 births per lifetime for other developed countries.
  • Also in the late 1990s, America took in almost half of all immigrants absorbed by the developed countries.
  • Although America's population is aging, the median age here is likely to increase to only 41 by 2050 from 36 now -- while in the rest of the West it would increase to over 49 years.
  • Under the study's median scenario, the population of other developed countries as a group will shrink by 15 percent between now and 2050, but the U.S. population is projected to grow by 40 percent -- more than any other now-developed nation.

In short, the reasons the U.S. population will grow while the rest of the world declines are higher fertility and higher immigration.

Source: Nicholas Eberstadt (American Enterprise Institute), "The American Exception," Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2001.

For text (WSJ subscribers only)


Browse more articles on International Issues