Though the world population continues to grow at an accelerated rate, declining population trends in the United States are a cause of concern for some experts. In fact, the population growth rate of the U.S. has seen a decades-long decline, dropping to its lowest level in the past 100 years. What are some of the consequences of this decline? Some experts believe the trend could lead to a downturn in economic growth, along with less of a support structure for retirees and the elderly.
There are several factors why the population growth rate has declined in the U.S.. A few of the reasons include fewer births, increased deaths, and more stringent immigration policies during the Trump administration.
Since 2015, there has been a drop in the “natural increase” of the U.S. population, which simply means the difference between births and deaths. This natural population increase accounted for 957,000 people from 2018 to 2019, the first time in forty years it has been less than a million, according to the Census Bureau. As a result, the nation's population grew by less than 0.5 percent in 2019 — part of a steady decline since 2015.
Fewer immigrants have been entering the country in the last five years. The net international migration has gradually decreased every year, falling from 1,046,709 in 2016 to 595,348 between 2018 and 2019, according to Census numbers.
Since 2016, immigration has steadily declined, due in part to harsher government policies. In 2019, only 595,000 people immigrated to the U.S., the lowest total yet in the Trump administration, which has enforced new restrictions on immigration and reduced the number of refugees being granted asylum.
Why is population decline worrisome? Some experts ascribe to the “genius hypothesis”-- the idea that the larger the population, the higher the chance that great innovators or inventors will emerge. This correlates with the fact that economic growth tends to stagnate as the population declines.
Some also believe that lower population growth will lead to a less diverse interchange of ideas. This has the potential to stifle technological and economic progress, though the exact number is hard to quantify. Diverse workplaces and universities are said to spur creative thought and increase productivity.
Another factor is that as the population declines, people will age out of research and engineering jobs. This means less talent is available for research and development, and less chance of significant scientific breakthroughs. An aging population is also less productive, and resources must be diverted away from innovation to care for the elderly.
With baby boomers getting older and the birth rate slowing down, experts believe the trend of declining population rates is likely to continue for some time. Although this trend is troubling, it has the potential to reverse itself if more lenient immigration policies are enacted in the coming years. This could open up opportunities for future E-1, E-2, L-1A, L-1B, H-1B, and EB-2/NIW visa seekers.
Visa Business Plans is a Miami-based business consulting firm led by Marco Scanu.