Demographic Dividend

By Isaac Cohen*

Some economic arguments in favor of immigration reform have focused on the contribution to economic growth and innovation, either through the creation by immigrants of high tech companies, or by the contribution of high skilled workers to the most innovative companies. Less has been heard about what can be called immigration’s “demographic dividend“.

The populations of several advanced economies and China, because of the one child only policy, are aging and decreasing rapidly. Natural population decrease happens when the number of deaths exceeds the number of births. In the United States, due to immigration, the population is still increasing. However, recent figures released by the US  Census Bureau, last June 13,  revealed that, in 2011-12 for the first time in this century,  among the white majority the number of deaths exceeded births by 12,419. Furthermore, the indicator has been declining consistently, from 319, 535 more births than deaths in 2006-2007. The reason why this will not be reflected in overall US population growth is because of an increase in the number of births among minorities.

This so called “demographic dividend” from immigration manifests itself in the fact that one fourth of all children in the United States are Hispanic. Therefore, every year, in the next two decades, 1.1 million young Hispanics will turn 18 years old, contributing to avoid the population decline anticipated in societies less welcoming of immigration.

*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington Office.


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