WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new study is showing that the population growth rate in the United States has sunk to historic lows. According to a December 23 Brookings Institution (BI) survey, the rate is at its lowest point since 1936 during the Great Depression.
The current rate is 0.6 percent. William H. Frey, a fellow with BI, wrote,
It is likely that some of the reduced fertility in recent years is attributable to recession-related delays in family formation among young adult millennials; this trend could reverse in the near future as the economy continues to grow. But higher death rates are likely to continue due to the long-term aging of the population, a phenomenon contributing to projected declines in U.S. growth rates, which could drop as low as 0.5 percent in 2040.
Immigration rates are stabilizing, however. "As immigration levels have increased in the past three years, now hovering around one million annually, low 'natural increase' — the excess of births over deaths — has played a bigger role as the birth rate has declined and the death rate has risen," the study observed.
Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Research Center remarked, "We are going to see, for probably another 10, 15 years, the number of deaths increasing and that's going to slow down the net growth." Although population growth is on the decline in the United States, the prospects are much bleaker in Japan, Italy and Germany.
For example, Italy is on the verge of a demographic disaster, according to Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin. "We are very close to the threshold of non-renewal where the people dying are not replaced by newborns. That means we are a dying country," Lorenzin said. "This situation has enormous implications for every sector: the economy, society, health, pensions, just to give a few examples."
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented, "Japan may be aging. Japan may be losing its population. But these are incentives for us. Why? Because we will continue to be motivated to grow our productivity. So, Japan's demography, paradoxically, is not an onus, but a bonus."
Critics are pointing to the prevalence of contraception and abortion as factors leading to the decline in growth rates.
Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, remarked, "We have created a world that over the long run is going to resemble a sort of collective suicide pact." He further commented, "Children are becoming less and less common, and less and less desired. There is no developed country that has an above-replacement fertility rate. That suggests we have a universal problem."
Mosher goes on to blame widespread use of contraception for this decline. "The whole agenda is to drive down the birth rate even further, and there is no natural stopping point. Before the advent of medical contraception, people controlled their fertility by breast-feeding, abstinence. They controlled it in various ways."
Abortion has also driven down population growth, according to John D. Mueller with the Ethics and Public Policy Center. "The cumulative reduction in U.S. population due to legal abortion will have reached about 211 million by the year 2050, more than three quarters the current population of the United States," Mueller wrote.
He further commented, "If all these abortions had instead been live births of children who lived normal lives, the population would today be about 38.9 million — or 14 percent — larger than the actual population of 275 million."
Mosher sees negative effects of contraception on population growth all around the world, saying, "In Europe's graying present we can see the world's future. This year, for the first time since the Black Death in the Middle Ages, Europe's population will decline. Population projections point to a demographic debacle of the first order in the decades to come."