- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

The global demographic story of recent years has been the rapid fall in birthrates. Even in the developing countries, total fertility is down from six babies per woman in 1960 to 2.9 today.
Demographic momentum, however, means that even after birthrates fall to the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman over the course of her life, the population keeps growing while women from the bigger families prevalent in the past are still having babies.
While stabilization of the world's population (currently 6.26 billion) remains many decades off, most demographers now are at least confident it is coming.
In contrast, American population growth shows no signs of slowing. According to the Census Bureau, the resident population of the United States is now nearly 289 million. That's up from 281 million when the census was taken in April 2000. That implies a growth rate of close to 1 percent per year, somewhat higher than China's (0.7 percent) and a little below Iran's (1.2 percent).
In January 2000, the Census Bureau issued a long-term forecast, predicting that the American population, under the most likely circumstances, would hit 404 million in 2050 and 571 million by 2100. Yet when the new projections the first to use the 2000 census data come out next spring, they are likely to be higher.
Until the 2000 census numbers were tabulated, the government didn't realize it was underestimating the current population by 6 million (including illegal immigrants). Also, the population appears to have been growing slightly faster than expected since 2000.
While the 2000 projections are obsolete, they still provide a useful framework for thinking about U.S. demographics.
The census also issued low and high series projections, which vary from a forecast population at the end of this century of 283 million up to a staggering 1.182 billion, which would be considerably higher than the current population of India.
This remarkable range depends on factors such as how long people tend to live. Over the past decade, the average life expectancy rose by about two years to 77. The Census Bureau doesn't expect any major breakthroughs in life span over the next century, with its range of guesses for the year 2100 running from age 85 to age 92. Of course, hard-to-predict scientific breakthroughs or global catastrophes could severely alter those projections.
Birthrates are notoriously hard to predict. Demographers generally subscribe to the comforting assumption that all total fertility rates will eventually even out at the population stabilizing replacement rate of 2.1 babies per woman. There isn't much evidence for this belief, however, as shown by plummeting European birthrates.
In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black, Asian and American Indian women all are having babies at about the replacement rate. Non-Hispanic white women are a little under that mark (1.87 in 2001). Hispanics, however, reached a fertility level of 3.16 children per woman in 2001, their highest level since the CDC began counting in 1989. Interestingly, Mexican-American women now have a higher birthrate than Mexican women.
With the Hispanic share of the population growing, the United States crossed the replacement level fertility rate in 2000 for the first time since 1971.
The total number of births in America fell by less than 1 percent from 2000 to 2001, perhaps due to the cooling off of the economy. The number of white and black babies was down while the number of Hispanic babies was up 4 percent. Hispanics comprised 21 percent of all newborns, up from 14 percent in 1989.
Much of the difference among the Census Bureau's low, medium and high long-run population projections stems from divergent guesses about future political decisions on immigration. The low projection assumes that immigration is cut back until only slightly more foreigners are immigrating as Americans are emigrating. The medium projection assumes that net migration stays at around 1 million per year. The high projection assumes the numbers of immigrants allowed to enter grows, although not quite as quickly as the native population.
During the midterm election campaigns, Republicans were content to stay silent on immigration, ceding the issue to former House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, who proposed a bill in October offering amnesty to many undocumented aliens.
Following the election, however, the Bush administration began hinting that it would revive a more limited version of its earlier amnesty plan, as well as introduce a "guest worker" program.
One little-known aspect of the large-scale 1986 amnesty is that it seems to have set off baby boom among the Hispanic immigrants who were its prime beneficiaries.
According to data assembled by demographer Hans P. Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California, in the mid-1980s in California, foreign-born Hispanic women were having babies at a pace that would average out to a lifetime total of 3.25 babies per woman. As the amnesty took effect, this total fertility rate shot up to 4.44 babies per immigrant Hispanic woman by 1991. It then declined to 3.25 babies each by 1998, the last year for which Mr. Johnson had data. This baby boom is now squeezing through California's intensely crowded school system.
Apparently, by allowing previously illegal immigrants to confidently put down roots in America, it encouraged them to have large families.
"The effect of a new amnesty program will depend on how many spouses join people granted amnesty in the U.S.," said Mr. Johnson. "That is an open question and depends at least partly on the nature of the amnesty."
Some Republicans who fear that an amnesty might increase the number of Democratic voters favor a guest-worker program. The goal would be to let American businesses employ low-wage foreign workers without allowing them to become permanent residents or citizens and thus voters.
This has been tried before, with some effectiveness. During World War II, the "Bracero" guest-worker program permitted Mexican men to work in the United States to replace Americans in the military. Edward R. Murrow's famous "Harvest of Shame" documentary exposing abuses of migrant workers led to the 1964 abolition of the Bracero program by liberals in Congress.
The Bracero system is harshly remembered by Hispanic activists today for trying to capture the "production but not the reproduction" of the male workers by forbidding Mexican women to accompany them north of the border.
Because any revival of the guest-worker program would be unlikely to include any such rule, a modern guest-worker program would include women. By having a baby on American soil, a guest worker could bestow American citizenship upon her child under the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Immigration lawyers use the term "anchor baby" to indicate how much harder it then becomes to deport the infant citizen's parents. Thus, it seems unlikely that a new guest worker program could successfully emulate the old system at garnering production without reproduction.
Under the Middle Series projections, by the year 2100 non-Hispanic whites will make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, compared with 69 percent today, blacks will remain at one-eighth, Asians will be as numerous as blacks, and Hispanics will comprise one-third of the population.
It may seem strange that the Census Bureau is still projecting racial categories a century out, when, ever since Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters golf tournament, it is increasingly predicted that racial divisions will fade away as new generations of Americans boast brown skins
Interracial marriage is increasing, but its extensiveness has often been exaggerated.
According to the Census Bureau, about 97 percent of married non-Hispanic whites in the United States are married to other non-Hispanic whites. That percentage has been falling, but it has a long way to go before interracial marriage becomes the norm. In the 2000 census, 12,859,892 children under 5 years old were identified by their parents as white-only versus a mere 796,360 declared to be white and another race. That's a 16-to-1 ratio.
Further, according to an earlier UPI analysis, the highest white birthrates are in Republican-voting "red states," where interracial marriage is uncommon. (George W. Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white birthrates.)
Black-white marriage remains rare: Less than 0.5 percent of married whites are wed to blacks.
Surprisingly enough, the main phenomenon slowing the growth in interracial marriages is mass immigration. According to "Mixed Race and Ethnicity in California," by Sonya M. Tafoya of the Public Policy Institute of California, native Californians are certainly doing their part to merge the races: "Multiracial births to native-born mothers rose dramatically between 1982 and 1997 from about 14 percent to nearly 21 percent, a 50 percent change."
The offsetting trend is that multiracial births to immigrant mothers, never a large proportion to begin with, declined slightly to 7 percent in 1997. Because 45 percent of California babies are born to foreign-born mothers, the state's overall rate of multiracial children is barely rising, up from 12 percent to 14 percent over that decade and a half.
Why are mixed-race births almost three times higher among native-born mothers than among immigrants? Wrote Miss Tafoya: "Explanations include the fact that the foreign-born may be married at the time of immigration, they might be more likely to live in ethnic enclaves, they might be more closely tied to a culture that resists out-marriage, or they might encounter language barriers."
A similar claim that the major races are fading away at the global level is also becoming widespread. This has even less statistical backing. There appears to be little reason to expect significantly greater racial mixture in either Asia or Africa anytime in the 21st century, and those two continents are where most humans will live.
For example, the best guess of the United Nations is that China will have 1.46 billion people in 2050. The Chinese government has shown no intention of ever admitting many immigrants, so the racial mixture level in China is unlikely to change perceptibly. The United Nations also projects that by 2050, India's population will grow from 1 billion to 1.572 billion. It seems improbable that many millions of immigrants from distant lands would flock to crowded and poor India, or that the Indian government would let them in if they did.
Other densely populated countries that appear unlikely to attract huge numbers of newcomers include Pakistan (forecast population of 344 million in 2050), Indonesia (311 million), Nigeria (279 million), Bangladesh (265 million), and Yemen and Uganda (102 million each).
In other words, the absolute numbers of racially distinct East Asians, blacks, and non-European Caucasians will probably be even larger in 2050 than they are today.
Most of the growth in racial mixing will be restricted to regions where intermarriage has been a long tradition primarily Latin America and some remote islands such as Hawaii or that are immigrant magnets, presumably North America, Australia and Western Europe.

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