The U.S. population is aging quickly. Baby boomers are retiring en masse and Americans are having far fewer children, on average, than any other time in our history. The median age in this country was 38 as of 2017. America now runs the risk of becoming an aging nation with few youthful replacements if we fail to address our demographic needs in a meaningful, long-term manner.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the general fertility rate in the U.S. in 2016 fell to 60.2 births per 1,000 women. This is down three percent from the prior year, and it represents a record low for the country.
This is likely due to a combination of factors including increased use of long-term birth control, more women attending college, as well as financial considerations.
Many people in the U.S. decided to delay having children at the beginning of the decade due to fallout from the Great Recession.
It now appears that that many of them are putting off having kids entirely.
This is one of the reasons that recent U.S. Census Bureau figures estimate that approximately 44 percent of all counties in the U.S. experienced a decline in population in 2018.
The impact of these changes is compounded by the fact that baby boomers are retiring in significant numbers. In fact, all baby boomers will have reached retirement age by 2030.
This combination of factors will create unique challenges in the management of our social welfare programs and the health of our real estate markets. These demographic changes also highlight the significant economic contributions of immigrants throughout the U.S.
By 2035, there won’t be enough people working in the U.S. to help fund the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) obligations for the population that is retiring. This problem could have a cascading impact on future generations of retirees.
The large-scale retirement of baby boomers is also creating complications in our housing market that could be addressed by immigrants.
Baby boomers have historically had a taste for large homes in suburban areas. Many of them are now looking to downsize as they reach retirement, but they are having a difficult time finding buyers for their McMansions in the suburbs.
Younger generations simply prefer to sacrifice space in exchange for living closer to city centers, but immigrants could step in to fill this gap as they tend to favor larger homes that are conducive to multi-generational living.
Census Figures confirm that the overall share of population growth attributable to immigrants was 48 percent in 2018, and more than half of U.S. metro areas gained a greater share of residents from outside of the U.S. than they did from other parts of the country.
Finally, nearly ten percent of the counties in the U.S. grew in population primarily due to immigration last year. Immigrants are clearly helping to fuel the growth that is necessary to ensure the health and stability of our local economies, including our real estate markets.
It is in our economic best interest to ensure that our population continues to grow. Immigration alone will not address all the fiscal issues facing our social welfare programs and economy more broadly, but they play an important role in reducing the economic effects of our aging population. Baby boomers are increasingly dependent on them to help pay for their retirement and buy their homes as they retire.
Any efforts to further restrict immigration would erode the financial stability of these programs and continue the aging of the American population.