Posts

Are “retirement migrants” bad for Florida? The birth dearth and a dying older America

The census bureau reports that one of three counties in the United States are dying, defined as counties where there are more deaths than births.

The US Census projects nearly 17% of the global population will be 65 and older in 2050, up from 8 percent today. In 2005, Europe became the first major world region where the population 65 and older outnumbered those younger than 15. By 2050, it would be joined by Northern America (which includes Canada and the United States), Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania (which includes Australia and New Zealand).

The US Census Bureau reports that 17.6 percent of Florida’s population was 65 and older in 2011 — which led all states.

Kenneth M. Johnson, Senior Demographer at the University of New Hampshire

According to a Fact Sheet issued by Kenneth M. Johnson, Senior Demographer at the University of New Hampshire, “Natural decrease occurs when more deaths than births occur in an area in a given year. The growing incidence of natural decrease in America has gone largely unnoticed, but new data released on March 14th demonstrate that natural decrease is no longer an isolated phenomenon. Last year, 36 percent of all U.S. counties experienced natural decrease.” [My emphasis]

Johnson found, “Deaths exceeded births in 1,135 counties, the most in U.S. history. As recently as 2009, natural decrease occurred in just 880 counties. So the recent rise reflects sharply higher levels of natural decrease.”

“Natural decrease is also regionally concentrated . . . It also occurred early in Florida counties that were among the first to receive retirement migrants,” reports Johnson.

Johnson notes that in the US, “Natural decrease is more prevalent because births are diminishing. There were only 3,954,000 births last year, compared to a record 4,316,000 in 2006–2007. This represents a decline of 8.3 percent in just five years.”

Some like the AP’s Hope Yen are promoting an increase in immigration to offset this birth dearth. Yen states, “The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law.”

Others point to the 2008 recession as the cause of the decline in births. Johnson states, “The recession was closely associated with this fertility decline. Recent National Center for Health Statistics data show that both the number of births and fertility rates dropped sharply over the last several years. Young women are having fewer babies. Fertility rates have declined sharply for them, but they remained relatively stable for older women. The fertility rate for women 20–34 declined 12 percent in just three years. Hispanic fertility declined the most, especially among younger Hispanic women. Taken together, these data suggest that the impact of the recession has been particularly pronounced on younger women, who are likely delaying fertility.”

One factor coming under increased scrutiny is the rate of abortions in the US and China.

Simon Rabinovitch from The Economist reports, “Chinese doctors have performed more than 330 million abortions since the government implemented a controversial family planning policy 40 years ago, according to official data from the health ministry. China’s one-child policy has been the subject of a heated debate about its economic consequences as the population ages.”

“Forced abortions and sterilizations have also been criticized by human rights campaigners such as Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing last year,” Rabinovitch reports.

Rabinovitch notes, “As China’s working-age population begins to decline, economists have warned that the family planning rules will pose an increasing drag on economic growth. China’s dependency ratio – which compares the potential workforce with the number of children and retirees – rose last year for the first time in 40 years.”

Rabinovitch notes, “In the US, where the population is 315 million or about one-quarter the size of China’s, an estimated 50 million abortions have been performed since the landmark Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in 1973.”

In effect the US has killed 50 million workers. Can any nation long survive economically with the demographic future of more deaths, fewer births and the killing (abortion) of its native population?

Johnson warns, “Demography is not destiny, but one ignores it at their peril.”