List of Countries Currently Experiencing Population Decline

In an effort to provide a quick reference for those interested in stage 5 of the demographic transition model (where the number of births fall below the number of deaths resulting in negative natural population growth), I put together a quick list of countries (map coming in an update!) based on U.S. Census projections. The countries below are experiencing population decline from 2013 to 2014. However, I based this list on growth rates (which includes migration) so some countries may have sustainable fertility rates (like South Africa) but out-migration (emigration) from the country is high enough to cause a decrease in that country’s population from 2013 to 2014. Despite this caveat, the primary reason for population decline is low birth rates. With that aside here is the list:

Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ukraine

South Africa is expected to experience a negative growth rate of 0.4 from 2013 to 2014. It is not due to low fertility (which is estimated at 2.2 children per woman), but due to large migrant outflows in 2013 and 2014 (over 300,000 people each year). With low number of births, the net effect on the population is decline (decreasing from 48,601,000 to 48,376,000).

A surprising addition to this list (for me) was Germany. I had assumed the country would continue to experience population growth for sometime because of its immigration. Not so, total fertility rate in Germany is 1.4 children per woman in 2013 (well below replacement level of 2.1). With an aging population, the 679,000 babies expected won’t be enough to replace the 906,000 deaths expected. These deaths aren’t due to an expectation of virulent disease or war, but simple old age. Moreover the 72,000 immigrants expected in 2013 isn’t enough to replace those German citizens that are dying.

This brings up a hidden facet to population decline, which I’ve touched on previously. These statistics treat “Germany” and “Russia” as homogeneous population groups. As I just said, 72,000 immigrants are expected (estimated) to enter Germany in 2013, many might become German citizens. Immigrants, typically, have larger number of children than the “natives” whether by bringing over their existing families when they naturalize or when they “settle down” and begin having families in their new homes (sometimes both!). When evaluating these (or any) statistics, its always important to keep in mind what’s being analyzed and to question what’s being left out. In these statistics we’re missing valuable ethnic, religious, and other important “identity” data. Like most things, concentrations develop as you narrow your focus from the countrywide to statewide level or from the nation to population groups.

Two general geographic trends are worth pointing out. The first is the prevalence of eastern and southeastern European, former Communist, Eastern Orthodox religion countries. This line stretches from the Baltic states and runs south to the Adriatic Sea. Greece, as it turns out, is expected to begin population decline by 2015. Outside the scope of the study it fits the larger regional pattern (though not “former Communist” thanks to Eisenhowerian intervention [I believe]). This isn’t really the space to speculate on the reason for the prevalence of population decline in this area but I would bet it would have something to do with the influx of “Western” medicine and technology after the Cold War prolonging lives (now leading to “larger” crude death rates) and lingering effects of the “Communist” social experiment that gave women more “freedom” (read: treated the same in regards to their labor as men) than in more “traditional” (read: not Communist) societies. The other general geographic trend is the presence of relatively small islands and island chains. These islands may actually represent the realization of a neo-Malthusian nightmare world. The “carrying capacity” of these islands are tapped, but not due to food, probably water or jobs, forcing a outflow of people. Combined with just below (St. Vincent and the Grenadines is 1.8 children per woman) or at-replacement level fertility and we have population decline in relatively small populations.

And then there’s Japan. While I’ve already discussed Japan in a previous post, its worth reiterating the multiple causes identified (or at least hypothesized) by scholars as to the reason for its population decline (really its falling fertility rates). Some point to ever-expanding educational and economic access for women, which leads to delay in having children (if having any at all). Others point to a wider trend of industrialization and modernization, breaking down traditional family structures and lifestyles – emphasizing “Western” ideals like individual gain and happiness. And of course, there’s the lack of immigration. The truth, as you probably could guess, is likely a combination of all these things (and more). In fact, one could point to the importance that “traditional Japanese culture” places on elders and the influence that longer lifespans has had in reinforcing this value. I used ironic quotes because I think every culture places high value on elders. At any rate, in a world of economic cost perhaps its more important to the individual or the state to be able to care for the elderly rather than children? Just a thought.

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Immigration to Japan: Demographic and Geopolitical Perspectives

Discussion of Japan’s demographic decline is proving to be a popular topic for the blog (based on reader hits) so I thought it’d be nice to delve a little bit more into the topic by discussion one way of reversing the trend, immigration (in-migration). In the original post, I mentioned in passing that Japan has a “strict” immigration policy (quoting a National Bureau of Asian Research article). While I can’t comment on the strictness of the immigration policy, I can say that it is apparently modeled after the United States’ in that it favors skilled, rather than unskilled, labor. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, I’m confident that most states would prefer skilled laborers, such as doctors, nurses, technologists, and the like, to immigrate than “unskilled” laborers, typically those involved with manual labor occupations.

Looking at statistics for immigration to Japan (from the Ministry of Justice) reveals some interesting points. But an introductory note, if you do decide to take a look at the Ministry of Justice data be sure to keep in mind the two “loopholes” which the Migration Policy Institute relates in a 2006 article. That article mentions the establishment of the 1993 Technical Internship Trainee Program. The MoJ data reports numbers of immigrants (arrivals and registrations) in table 7-1/2, “Changes in the number of New Arrivals of ‘Thechnical [sic] Intern Training (1)’ by Nationality”. The other loophole was through recruitment of Nikkeijin (descendants of Japanese emigrants, i.e. persons from Japan who left and settled elsewhere). The article notes that the primary beneficiaries of this loophole were Brazilian Japanese. One should also note that there are a number of categories related to various “trainees” but whether these are all “unskilled” workers is subject to speculation. An additional word on Brazilian Japanese, I can’t remember where I read this now but one of the reasons why the Japanese went with a much more open policy of immigration for descendants of Japanese emigrants was due to the prevailing assumption that they would be culturally similar to resident Japanese. Of course, we know better now – but that’s for another post.

What can we glean from the immigration data? First, is the widespread presence of Chinese immigrants in the Japanese economy. Probably two-thirds to three-quarters of the categories tracked list Chinese immigrants as the largest population group (among new arrivals). Other notable mentions are Filipinos, Koreans (from South Korea), Brazilians, and Americans. The most ludicrous one first, Americans, this group comprise the largest number of immigrants in two categories, “Specialist in Humanities/International Services”, of which there were 986 Americans of 4,113 immigrants in 2010. This reflects the generally services-oriented economy that the United States currently operates. The other category is, wait for it, “Entertainer”, where Americans represented 6,785 of 28,612 immigrants in 2010. The second largest is the United Kingdom in this group. To the Japanese, Americans are the equivalent to troubadors and wandering minstrels (and we’re just as annoying).

China and (South) Korea of course have some, shall we say negative, history with Japan, as this blog has touched upon in 1, 2 geopolitical cartoon posts. Many Koreans, in particular, are considered part of the “old wave” of immigrants having come to the Japanese archipelago over a century ago. Chinese immigrants are relatively more recent, many arriving after World War II (the MPI article discusses this). Other countries, such as the Philippines and Brazil, are much more reason and coincide with the relative loosening of immigration policy. Beyond this, Chinese (and to a lesser extent Korean) immigration to Japan is interesting from a geopolitical standpoint. Much has been made over the past year over the Japan-China dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands (which shall be yet another Z Geography post). Admittedly the decision to go to war is primarily political but an era characterized by rising Asian nationalism (Diaoyu/Senkaku island dispute for instance), the large numbers of Chinese immigrants present in Japan, and supporting the Japanese economy, is worth a mention. Would we think that Japan’s government would shoot first, assuming they’re aware of Chinese nationals contribution to society? Of course, this assumes that Chinese workers in Japan would side with China during a conflict. This “fifth column” potential isn’t a foregone conclusion, as the United States learned during World War II with Japanese and German immigrants. However, in that case its worth remembering that both groups had been present in the United States for about a century, the Germans longer. Incidentally a good book on Asian migration to the United States is “Strangers from a Different Shore”. A book review is forthcoming.

The second interesting point is the collapse in new arrivals of Brazilians (see Table 14-1) from 2008 to 2009 in the “spouse or child of Japanese national” category. The number dropped from 2,895 arrivals to 483, though this corresponds (roughly) to a general decline in new immigrant arrivals, it was the greatest proportional drop. Another group disproportionately affected by the immigration decline were Filipinos, whose arrivals decreased from 5,133 to 3,308. Undoubtedly, this drop in immigrant arrivals is partly explained by the global economic decline. Since this category partially represents “unskilled labor”, its reasonable to assume that the global economic decline both dropped incomes for immigrating families (thus making it harder to immigrate abroad especially from places far away, like Brazil or the Philippines) as well as resulted in tighter restriction in Japan for “unskilled labor” immigrants (in order to protect low-skilled work positions at home). For perspective on Japan’s view of immigration check out, this Japan Today article, quite insightful. I mention it here because the Philippines might strike many as strange.

According to that article, nurses are “being groomed” (interesting choice of words) in Indonesia and the Philippines for the “Japanese system.” I assume the nurses are being trained, not only to Japanese medical standards, but also given a healthy dose of Japanese culture. Under the “trainee” category, the Philippines and Indonesia place 2nd and 4th, respectively. Behind China (first) and Vietnam (third). Why the call for Indonesian and Filipino nurses? You know without me telling you, Japan’s aging population (see chart below). With legions of elderly set to arrive in the not-too-distant future, Japan is attempting to import labor now to meet that eventual demand. With fewer and fewer younger Japanese able to take care of aging parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, not to mention however many children are born, it will increasingly fall upon the state, hospitals, and private nurses, to make up the care gap. While the MoJ’s numbers highlights the Japanese government’s identification of one part of the demographic decline problem, that is the scarcity of healthcare workers for the elderly, it misses another entirely, the actual demographic decline.

Japan Population Pyramid, 2000 (via U.S. Census)

Japan Population Pyramid, 2000 (via U.S. Census)

With disappearing populations, Japan’s answer (as reported by the MPI article) has traditionally been to automate the workforce, rather than expand the labor pool with immigrants. One wonders if immigrants are likely to remain in Japan indefinitely if their status doesn’t change and they have little say in the government, despite their burgeoning numbers. The MoJ’s numbers tell this story too, of the 2.3 million Korean immigrants in 2010, some 2.2 million were codified as “temporary visitors”, 124 were codified as “long-term residents.” Among Brazilians, we see that the liberal policies for Japanese descendants continue, of 22 thousand new arrivals in 2010, about 10% were codified as “long-term residents”. To a certain extent, Chinese immigrants also benefit from this policy as many Japanese took Chinese wives or had mixed children. Of 1.1 million Chinese immigrant arrivals, about 2,000 were marked “long-term resident”. Finally, Filipino immigrant arrivals may reflect the long-term nature of their stay (or perhaps a large number of Japanese-descended children?) of 66 immigrant arrivals, 2,195 were marked “long-term resident.”

Japanese immigration statistics offer us valuable insights into the country, its economy, and its society. As we saw here, Japanese preference for highly skilled workers continue though an informed read of immigration policies reveals certain loopholes for the “unskilled”. Moreover, we saw in detail the Japanese government’s “cultural” preference for Japanese-descended (in the case of South America) or Asian (particularly East Asian) immigrants. In this latter group, East Asians, we speculated on the geopolitical implications of the presence of large numbers of Chinese immigrants (nationals) in the economy. Finally, we explored the meaning behind the large numbers of Filipino migrants and the Japanese actions, and inaction, in regards to population decline.

Demographic Transition in Latvia: Stage 5

I mentioned in a previous post that Japan isn’t alone in experiencing population decline, that is the proposed fifth stage of the demographic transition model. To briefly recap, stage 5 is the next proposed stage in the demographer’s framework of fertility in a society measured by the total fertility rate and the total death rate. Stage 4, “modernity” (if you will) is characterized by both fluctuating birth rates and low death rates. Birth rates fluctuate with things like economic busts/booms and war/peace dividends. Stage 5 is when birth rates fall below death rates, leading to a slowing of population growth (a deceleration). Eventually, population growth begins to decline if there’s no immigration (or net emigration, that is, people leaving) and birth rates don’t increase to replace the elderly who are dying.

I have amended my earlier post to account for some information. Japan wasn’t the first state to experience sustained population decline, while I don’t know who is first since I haven’t reviewed all of the data, I can say that Latvia was before Japan. Based on data from the U.S. Census International Program, Japan’s population was still growing in 2000, while Latvia’s had decreased. In 2013, Japan’s population had increased over the 2000 population figure from 126.7 million to 127.3 million. In Latvia over the same time the population had decreased from 2.3 million to 2.1 million. By 2050, demographic estimates forecast the population of Japan at 107.2 million and Latvia’s at 1.5 million. The situation is so dire in Latvia, that a Latvian demographer (as reported in The Baltic Times) predicted only 300,000 people would remain in Latvia by 2100.

Breaking down the rates behind these numbers, the number of births per 1,000 people in Japan is 8.2 while the number of deaths per 1,000 is 9.3 in 2013. The reflects a negative rate of natural increase, which is found by subtracting deaths from births and dividing by ten (or -0.11%). The net migration into Japan was negligible in 2013 so there is no effect from that activity on the population growth rate (which accounts for migration). In Latvia, births are 9.9 births per 1,000 people and deaths are 13.6 per 1,000, again suggesting a negative rate of natural increase (-0.37%). But, in addition, Latvia also loses 2.4 people per thousand persons in immigration. I discussed this briefly in a previous post on the uneven geography of minimum wages. Immigration bumps up this negative natural growth to -0.61% growth rate.

Looking into the future, Census estimates that immigration will increase in Latvia by 2050 while remaining negligible in Japan. In addition, birth rates are expected to fall further and death rates to spike dramatically. Why? The answer is the effect of population decline, barring any sort of short-term spike in births, in the relative proportions of the various age groups. As populations decrease naturally, there are fewer and fewer babies being born, meaning fewer potential children to be had. The children that are born are also less likely to have children meaning the situation will continue. On the other hand, the number of elderly increases in proportion to the number of children and middle-aged adults. With this larger number of elderly, the death rate looks like an increase but its really just the impact of having a “grey” population dying at the same rate. Essentially, the Census isn’t projecting a new disease or war will increase the death rate, just that a larger proportion of elderly will be dying off.

Consider the two population pyramids below for Japan (from the U.S. Census). The first is Japan male and female total population in 2000, the second is that total population in 2050. In 2000 the largest age groups are the 50-54 year olds and the 25-29 year olds. While the 50+ population is unlikely to have additional children, the population can conceivably still grow with the large numbers of youths, and as we saw above Japan’s population was still growing in 2000. Now consider the 2050 population pyramid. The two largest age groups are the 75-79 population group and the 70-74 population group. These groups are unlikely to have any additional children and to make it worse, there are fewer proportions of middle-aged adults and young adults to have children as well. Thus, barring any explosion in births population decline looks set to continue. The Latvian geographer bluntly said that Latvians would have to increase the natural birth rate to “African levels.”

Japan Population Pyramid, 2000 (via U.S. Census)

Japan Population Pyramid, 2000 (via U.S. Census)

japan-2050

Japan Population Pyramid, 2050 (via U.S. Census)

The demographer suggests that the government should do more to promote the birth rate including raising subsidies for young families and improving access to kindergartens. Unlike some governmental programs and policies which see immediate results, building roads, raising taxes, and so on, demographic policies take decades to produce results. Therein lies part of the problem, in the world of democracies measured by four, five, or six year electoral cycles, two-decade demographic plans are absent (or not discussed). Partly because each new government stops the policies of the outgoing government or funds different programs.

The potential economic impact of population decline is clear in the Japan 2050 population pyramid. Like developing economies today, these stage 5 economies will have too many dependents to support. In developing economies, the “youth bulge” burdens working adults with having to economically support large numbers of children either at home or through the state, limiting savings and consumerism. The situation would be similar in stage 5 economies when working adults must help support the “elderly bulge” either directly, by having parents and grandparents stay at home, or indirectly, by paying heavy taxes to care for them.

Stage 5, Demographic Transition Model: Japan’s exit to the left

I wrote recently about Thomas Malthus and the continued presence of his followers, neo-Malthusians, who argue that high population growth and large populations are (essentially) a source of economic and political instability. While this is an old felt hat, the new millennium has given demographers a new topic of discussion, one which generally isn’t reported in the press. Low population growth as a source of instability. If you aren’t aware of the earth-shattering demographic news (yes, I can use those two adjectives in the same phrase) than hold on tight. Population decline is a reality. I’m not talking about a Spanish influenza or Black Plague sort of population decline (because you would have heard of that), I’m talking about gradual decreases in a country’s (yes, an entire country) population. Demographers note that this may never have occurred before over the course of human history. The problem is demographic decline isn’t limited to one country, its a reality in a number of countries in both Asia and Europe. The widespread nature of the problem means that we need to rethink our models to account for not only population growth but decline.

The general framework demographers use to talk about population growth is encompassed in the demographic transition model. Like any model it is a representation of reality, it isn’t reality. While the demographic transition model encompasses some factors of population growth, birth and death specifically, it leaves out another, migration. What’s exciting is that we appear to be heading for a new “fifth” stage in the model.

A graphical depiction of the demographic transition model (from BBC)

The first stage, roughly described as “preindustrial”, is characterized by a high birth rate and high death rate, both of these fluctuate as populations respond to external stimuli – for instance, a good harvest encourages more child bearing or a new minor disease increases the death rate slightly. Overall, the effect is for somewhat stable population growth there’s plenty of births to make up for the high death rate. In human history this is roughly representative of human society before the introduction of things like sanitation, medicine, and so on (premodern, if you’re into that).

The second stage is the collapse of the death rate, for humans the introduction of proper sanitation, modern medicine, easily accessible nutritious food, and clean water all combined to dramatically, and quickly, lower the rate of deaths. As technology got better deaths continued to drop until it was primarily the very old, the very young, or the very unlucky who were dying. Society is slow to respond this collapsing birth rate so population growth effectively increases as births remain high. More and more babies are born and survive into adulthood, having large families of their own. Especially during the era of decolonization (from the 1960s) less developed countries were thought to be indicative of this stage, having high population growth and birth rates but relatively low death rates due to the influence of modern medicine.

The third stage is dramatic falls in the birth rate, society responds to the low death rate by having less children. Population still grows, but slower. Why have less children? Think of it this way, before things like ipads, social security, gender equality, children were the social security. Once you became to old to work your farm you hoped one of your myriad of children would take you in and support you and your spouse in your golden years. But with the advance of education, making children’s education more expensive, gender equality, which made it socially acceptable and desirable for more women to have careers, and general consumer goods, which compete with children for your wallet, birth rates dropped. Many demographers focus on the changing role of women in society. Some talk about the double-day phenomena, where mothers work a regular job and then must also work at home to supporting a child (the implication is that the spouse doesn’t do nearly enough at home). Others note that as more women work professionally, they stay in school longer for better jobs, resulting in putting off having a child to after their mid-20s (after the graduate college or graduate school). As I posted before the generally accepted total fertility rate for stable population growth is 2.1 children per woman over her child-bearing years. One each to replace mummy and daddy and 1 child over 100 women to replace the odd woman or man who doesn’t have a child.

At this point we reach stage four, where birth and death rates are fluctuating at low levels. We still have natural disasters and virulent diseases, not to mention war, that can increase the death rate and there are still things like baby booms, especially after the war, and economic booms to spur birth rates. Demographers assumed that this would be the rule for the rest of human history (though they probably wouldn’t say it), but it seems like we’ve come to a fifth stage. The population would growth slowly, driven by advances in technology or social progress, or fluctuate around an “ideal” population size. But that’s apparently not the end of the story.

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) held a roundtable discussion on the implications of Japan’s changing demographics (that is, its declining population) and released an article summarizing the discussion recently. This is a great article and well worth a read, if you have the time. But I’ll offer a quick summary. Without quoting the source (I’m assuming its the U.S. Census, United Nations, or Japan’s Statistics Bureau), NBR reports that Japan’s population is to fall from 128 million people in 2007 to 95 million in 2050. That’s a decline of 33 million persons over a 43 year period, almost a thousand over 750,000 (ed. math-fail) persons a year. The first response is usually that there must be a staggeringly high death rate in Japan. Wrong! The discussants believe it is due to a combination of three factors: health, birth, and emigration (that is, out-migration). The article that presents the implications of this declining population on three areas, economics, energy, and security. In terms of economics, the discussants saw a vicious cycle of economic difficulty and falling birth rates as men are increasingly taking lower-wage informal jobs (thereby not able to support larger families), a more quickly declining working population (compared to the population at-large), and always-low immigration rates. In terms of energy, the discussants primarily examined the impact of the ban on nuclear energy and tangentially noted that a declining population will likely result in lower energy consumption – forcing Japanese utilities to look abroad to diversify. Finally, the discussants did not see a Japan lowering its defense spending (since the burden is already relatively low) and argued that whether it might raise defense spending as relations with China cool. The demographers saw that a declining work force might not impact military recruitment, because Japan’s “high” underemployment. The report concludes with a list of recommendations for addressing the challenges brought by demographic decline within the current economic situation of Japan.

Although NBR focuses on Japan, its worth remembering that this isn’t a problem unique to Japan. Demographic decline will be affecting most of East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea), except Mongolia and North Korea, and Russia by 2050 according to data from the U.S. Census. What makes Japan unique is that it is the first country to begin this decline. Thus, the challenges faced by Japan will also be faced by the rest albeit further in the future. China’s current total fertility rate is estimated at 1.6 children (the one-child policy was mostly responsible for this) but demographic momentum of such a large (over a billion people) means that population decline won’t happen immediately. However between 2025 and 2050, the Census Bureau estimates the population of China will shrink by a little over 90 million people (a growth rate of negative 0.5%). Similar situations are also found in Taiwan and South Korea. That slowing population growth and below replacement level fertility is widespread makes it necessary to expand the demographic transition model to include stage 5 (as many have started doing).

We can characterize stage five as a fluctuating death rate but a still decreasing birth rate, resulting in a negative population growth rate and, eventually population decline. The reason I say eventual population decline is because the population will continue to grow for sometime after the birth rate falls below the death rate. After all, all of those children that were born before the fall are going to be having children in the next generation. This is the concept of demographic momentum. Actual population decline doesn’t occur immediately, there’s a generation or two lag as society fails to respond. Why does the birth rate still decrease? For a large number of reasons, many of them similar to the drop in the birth rate outlined in stage four. Children are expensive to keep, provide for, and educate (assuming you have a standard you want to keep) and these expenses are a household decision, perhaps a couple or a person, doesn’t want the expense. Children aren’t necessary for retirement, we have pension funds, 401ks, and other retirement plans for ourselves, not to mention physical places, like assisted living homes who employ folks who are paid to take care of you. And then there is shifting societal norms and values, while it is always dangerous to discuss “cultural norms” for hundreds of millions of people, we can definitely say that is as acceptable (socially) for a woman have a career and devote her life to her work, though not all women choose this path and there are still barriers (like pay) discouraging them from doing so. Of course, there are still many women that choose and want to have families and to devote their lives to their children. The constraint here is on the number of children one may want to have, which is constrained by the family’s choices and society. In terms of the former, a family may want to only have enough children that they could send to college, or a Master’s, or complete their dissertation. Or they might only want to have two to avoid “middle child syndrome.” Then there are factors outside of their control, China, as an extreme example, was famous for the one child policy, which was enacted in order to limit the population growth rate (an instance of the state attempting to force demographic transition from stage two to stage three). But there are also other more subtle factors, perhaps having too many children is a sign of poverty or low social class? The ultimate point is that there are now a variety of reasons for people to not have children.

Way back in the introduction I discussed the idea of low population growth and declining populations as a source of instability, a sort of anti-Malthusism. The problem is this theory is completely speculative. As I mentioned above, persistent, slow-moving decline hasn’t been a factor in human history. Thus, the effects on things like social and political stability are difficult to estimate. However, as NBR pointed out, there are some cursory observations and projections we can make, for instance, a lower energy consumption. However, this isn’t necessarily the case since every year we invent new, bigger, and cheaper technological gadgets to entertain ourselves. I plan on devoting another post to the issue of low population growth/population decline and instability.

[updated 02/25/13]: Japan’s current demographic decline is not unique (considering that as the trends go, most children born today will probably visit a number of “disappearing countries”) its a new part of human society and should be reflected in our demographic models. I mentioned before that models are not reality, the demographic transition model could be better by including migration. In fact, the United States’ total fertility rate is currently at replacement level (the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 2.1 births per woman in 2013) and forecasts a stable trend until 2050. By 2050, the Census Bureau estimates a below replacement level fertility rate of 2.0. However, demographic momentum and the country’s relatively open immigration policies and relatively welcoming society will ensure a healthy population growth. Young migrants, who also tend to bring over families if they’re able, also generally have more children. This is a good thing, steady population growth ensures a steady pool of labor to fill jobs as people retire and in the U.S., where natural population growth is slowing, we need immigrants to fill the jobs that are unfilled by the available labor pool. After all, immigrants wouldn’t be coming to the U.S. without a reasonable expectation that they will be able to get a better-paying or more steady job. Of course, the immigration solution is also available to Japan but as, NBR writes Japan has a “strict” immigration policy limiting the effectiveness of this solution.