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August 29, 2002

Most Important Story of Century

I'm not sure it's rhetorical florish to say this Economist article on the divergent demographic destinies of the US versus Europe will matter far more than anything else you see in the news-- even with deference to Al Quaeda. With US fertility and immigration rising and European and even third world populations moving into decline, here are some key factlets:

  • Somewhere between 2030 and 2040, the US will gain a larger population than Europe.
  • By 2050, the US could have half a billion people.

    Those are the obvious numbers, but culturally, this number is the kicker:

  • The median age in America in 2050 will be 36.2. In Europe it will be 52.7.

    Think about a world where the US is still dominated by youth culture and Europe is basically a retirement home. But this extends beyond Europe, if trends hold up (and that's always an iffy statement), the US will have a higher percentage of children in its population than China as well. With global population expected to level off by 2040 and begin to decline, the US will actually be a larger proportion of the world's population as the century moves forward.

    The implications globally are that the US is still likely to remain an energetic center of the world, with a younger and richer population for decades to come, but domestically the most singular result is this-- ignore all the blather about a social security "crisis." THERE IS NONE! Demographics means that the system as it is designed with minor tweaking can preserve benefits for decades to come; immigration and those fertility rates will save us, a point I made last fall in this article.

    Posted by Nathan at August 29, 2002 08:02 AM

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