Immigration world turned upside down

Things have changed and the verities that have ruled our world since before any of us can remember do so no longer. In the course of just a few years, the immigration equation has changed because the demographic variable is very different. Birthrates are dropping all over the world and populations are aging. We have taken for granted that the U.S was a magnet for immigrants and our challenge was keeping out the excess. Our challenge now will be getting productive ones in.

Fertility rates (the number of children a woman can expected) have dropped in Mexico and Latin America and once the current demographic bulge is passed Mexico will have a lower growth rate than the U.S. does. The massive flow of immigration from south of the border is stopping and will never resume.

What about other sources? Who would ever have believed that China would have a labor shortage, but it is on the way. This year for the first time in history China's working age population shrunk. This will now to be trend for a generation. The number of 15-24-year-olds will shrink drop very quickly, by 38m, or 21%, over the next decade.

Europe and Japan long since entered this demographic decline. Deaths in many places are exceeding births and populations in Japan, German & Russia, among others, are actually shrinking already. I recall the gloomy symmetry in a school in German that had been converted to an old folk's home. One old lady explained that she had gone to school there as a child and would die there.

There are places in the world were populations are still growing, principally in Africa and the Middle East, but even here the rates of growth are falling fast. Of course there is a difference between dropping rates of growth and dropping population, but the one portends the other.

Let's be clear. Total population will continue to grow worldwide, but at a slowing pace until it begins to decline in absolute numbers near the end of the century. What affects us in particular is the diminishing rate of growth and where it happens. The world is growing economically and there is a shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labor already. If/when our own country resumes its robust growth, we will be in competition with others for this shrinking pool of workers.

This is a paradigm shift. America has always had the choice. We could accept immigrants or keep them out but there was always a rising tide of huddled masses yearning to be free in America. Now we've got competition. We are no longer the only game in town.

There is no such thing as destiny, but the thing that comes closest to it is demography. The workforce of 2025 is already born. We cannot make more if we need them. All we can do is move the ones we have and they will have more options than before.

Posted by Christine & John at January 27, 2013 9:03 AM
Comment #360975

C&J, what about principles over politics?

First, let’s taste the koolaid. – if repub’s don’t take note of the demographics they will never win another election — our challenge now will be getting productive immigrants in to the US – running out of people, massive flow of immigration has is stopping and will never resume – China has, or will have a labor shortage – there is a shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labor in the world already and we will be competing with them for workers — This is a paradigm shift. America has always had the choice. We could accept immigrants or keep them out but there was always a rising tide of huddled masses yearning to be free in America. Now we’ve got competition. We are no longer the only game in town.

That pretty much frames your post and the new repub agenda.

On the principle side of the issue; it has been law for years that a visa was required to enter and live, for whatever period, in the US. Other laws were formed around deporting/removing people found here illegally. Folks were led to believe in 86 that amnesty would be followed by secure borders.

What we got was a corpocracy that wanted cheap labor so laws went unenforced. Immigration was encouraged/facilitated with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, free HC, education, tax deductions and so on. Even in the face of 25% under-unemployed the borders remained open. Agree, a brief respite in flow northward has occurred but only because many of those here couldn’t find work and returned home.

Haitian’s and DR’s are the only two nations that have been severely restricted from coming to the US so far as I am aware.

I recall in the 60’s that hiring foreign genius was referred to as ‘brain drain’ and frowned upon. Now that the political ‘demographic’ has changed (Regan’s ‘greed is good’) it’s like we can’t survive as a nation unless we drain their brains to the max. It’s such a silly/childish position to take, that we, as a nation of some 380M folks don’t have enough people to keep the treadmill going - - - I can’t believe they would try to sell it. But, corpocracy is way stranger than fiction - - Pavlov’s dog and all that. Some 15% of cabdrivers have a BS, as does some 25% of the service industry. Meanwhile, any foreign person worth a million dollars by law gets citizenship here. We are all in for the green, not so much for life in general.

I heard about the horrific club fire in Brazil, another example lax enforcement of law. And, I read yesterday that Brazil has over a 2100 mile border with Bolivia where coke has become a problem. Expect the drone business to expand mightily.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 28, 2013 2:16 PM
Comment #360976

C&J, what I meant to say was that you can run a venture capitalist billionaire for president but it may cost you a few votes - -

Posted by: r at January 28, 2013 2:27 PM
Comment #360979


The person who said “greed is good” was a character on a film made by a leftist who wanted to paint the free market is a bad light.

Re brain drain - IMO people should be allowed to use their talents how and where they want. One reason brains “drained” to the U.S. was that other countries were so poorly managed that intelligence and hard work didn’t matter very much. Today more and more places have seen the light and so smart people have lots of choices.

We need to address our k-12 schools. We use outdated rules and methods. This means that we don’t always have the skilled people we need.

I would also make a point about job creation. Many of the high tech firms in the U.S. were founded by immigrants. These people have enriched the U.S. and the world. If they had remained in their countries of origin, their talents may well have been wasted. Our country creates opportunities. I regret that sometimes Americans cannot take advantage of all our country offers.

Posted by: C&J at January 28, 2013 5:30 PM
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