Population

U.S. Population Growth Rate Lowest in a Century, Says New Report

Negative population growth back in 1919 was largely the result of the Spanish flu pandemic

|

"In the United States, fewer births and more deaths reduced population growth to a 100-year low," reports a new study by demographers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). They add that "in nearly 46 percent of counties, more people died than were born last year."

As I reported last year, the U.S. total fertility rate fell in 2018 to 1.73 births per woman, the lowest rate ever recorded. In general, the U.S. total fertility rate was been below replacement fertility—the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself, usually defined as 2.1 births per woman—since 1971.

The UNH report notes that U.S. deaths rose to a record high of 2,835,000 last year, while the number of births reached 3,792,000, the fewest since 1986. As a result, the surplus of 957,000 births over deaths was the least in more than 50 years.

"Because of this smaller surplus and diminished immigration, the U.S. population grew by just 0.48 percent last year—the lowest population growth rate since 1919," note the UNH researchers. They also reported that "more people died than were born last year in 1,430 of the 3,142 U.S. counties (46 percent)." This is up from ten years ago when 889 counties (28 percent) had more deaths than births.

Interestingly, the low—that is to say, negative—population growth in 1919 was largely the result of the decimation caused by the Spanish flu pandemic. Between July 1918 and July 1919, U.S. population actually dropped by 60,000 people. Let's hope that the current coronavirus epidemic will not be so severe as to have a similar effect in the coming year or so.

Advertisement

NEXT: N.H. Court Rejects Challenge to Ban on Gatherings of 50 or More People

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Bitches just ain’t giving it up like they used to.

    1. I just bought a brand new BMW after having made $6375 this past one month and just over 12k last 4 week. This is the best and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had. I actually started this few Weeks ago and almost immediately started to bring home minimum 74BUCKS p/h… Read More

      1. BMWs don’t get you laid, ask Elliot Rodger.

    2. *Snort* Everybody knows that Earth is overpopulated, and this is causing serious ecological harm. Yes, we *have to cut our numbers down*. There are two ways to do this: 1) Kill a lot of people, and 2) breed fewer children — like only one or two per couple. Obviously, responsible people in the US have chosen option 2. So have a lot of responsible people in Europe and even Asia. Why is this a matter for worry? There are — and will be — plenty of fertile adults around who can breed more children when there’s a need for it. Once the total population is down to what Earth can reasonably support, the birth-rate will start to climb again. Meanwhile, we should stop worrying about the shrinking birth-rate; it’s not the end of the world, but a way of saving it.

  2. Do dual citizenship births only count as 0.5?

    1. [ STAY AT HOME & WORK AT HOME FOR USA ]
      I just bought a brand new BMW after having made $6375 this past one month and just over 12k last 4 week. This is the best and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had. I actually started this few Weeks ago and almost immediately started to bring home minimum 74BUCKS p/h… Read More

    2. I just bought a brand new BMW after having made $6375 this past one month and just over 12k last 4 week. This is the best and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had. I actually started this few Weeks ago and almost immediately started to bring home minimum 74BUCKS p/h… Read More

      1. LOL at the squirrels getting the spammer too.

  3. Waiting for the follow-up article about how we need infinity immigrants to fill the low skill jobs that won’t exist in 10 years.

    1. Mericans don’t want those jobs and neither do their 1.73 kids.

    2. Waiting for the follow-up article about how we need infinity immigrants to fill the low skill jobs that won’t exist in 10 years.

      Good luck collecting Social Security benefits without immigration.

      1. What jobs will they be doing in 30 years when I’m eligible? They’ll be on the dole.

      2. MMT, bitchez

        SS can be funded indefinitely by just a few platinum coins

  4. I’m confused Ron. You’ve been telling us how groovy being childless is and now you’re worried? Not to worry. One robot is worth two hungry kids and they’re immune to viruses. Looks like a win win to me.

    1. Plus, if Ex Machina is to be believed, the robots will be smokin’ hot.

      1. Well if we don’t need kids and we have smokin hot robots we really don’t need women. If they can perfect that cloning thing the future looks very bright. I feel like Virginia Postrel predicted a wonderful future like this 20 years ago.

        1. The reverse is probably true: Women won’t need men. I’ve often felt that men were a superfluous addition to the species.

          1. Eventually, with genetic tinkering, women can probably have children without men. It’s very unlikely men can reverse-engineer their sperm into an egg.

            1. They’d just use a related mammal’s eggs, coring out the nucleus and replacing it with an engineered one. It’d be cloning, though, unless they can figure out how to do the zippering like regular sexual reproduction. To be clear, that’s more or less the same process the women would have to go through as well, though in their case it’s simpler to use their own eggs and just induce them to divide and form a zygote – still cloning (parthenogenesis, in this case, if you want to be technical) unless you figure out the same problem.

              Either way, human cloning is something we already know how to do, though nobody will admit to having actually done it, and it suffices for single-sex reproduction in the short term.

      2. Why wouldn’t they be? Why would you make a mass-produced humanoid robot and NOT make it beautiful? I mean, I can see ugly-bots as an after-market mod or a niche market, but not for the main stream.

        1. Cuz a pretty (and compliant) robot is unfair to ugly people?

          1. Unfair? It’s the only way they’re going to enjoy something their more attractive peers have a monopoly on at the moment.

  5. Just how much does abortion have to do with that decline in the birthrate?

    1. 600K although that’s about half of the peak 30 years ago.

    2. Thank God for abortion. Imagine if we had tens of millions more products of teenage mothers and other unprepared/unwilling parents clogging up the foster system, and later the welfare and criminal justice systems.

      1. “Thank God for abortion. Imagine if we had tens of millions more products of teenage mothers and other unprepared/unwilling parents clogging up the foster system, and later the welfare and criminal justice systems.”

        Ooh … now let’s kill the ones that avoided abortion — Nirvana! Paradise!

        1. Yeah because and adult is the same as an undiferrentiated cluster of cells.

          1. Don’t even try with that bullshit

            1. So you think an adult is the same as an undifferentiated cluster of cells? Why?

          2. Grown-up criminals and welfare recipients are more valuable to society than innocent babies? I guess the former is a shoo-in vote for the Democrats, so there’s that.

            1. Mick sounds like one of the Rev’s sock puppets

        2. That’s what the police are for.

      2. Yes, I shudder to think what the US would be like today if we hadn’t had legal abortion for the last 40 years. Even with that safety valve, some of our cities are starting to look like Calcutta.

  6. Don’t worry, with the quarantine, the numbers are sure to go up.

    1. Christmas presents for everyone!

      1. “‘Corona’ most popular girl’s name; ‘Covid’ most popular boy’s name; ‘Pan’ most popular genderless name.”

        1. Washya Hans – gender fluid

    2. I actually think covid will have the opposite effect. We will see a surge in divorces but not babies. Women are getting too bitchy and tired to put out being stuck at home with their husbands and kids for weeks on end.

      1. Yup. Because men and kids are the problem. HAHA.

        1. Women really need to look inward.

      2. Nah, everyone will just be glued to their phones, too busy to get busy.

      3. Stress is a libido killer.

  7. “Negative population growth back in 1919 was largely the result of the Spanish flu pandemic”

    This time, it’ll be the result of a manufactured panic.

  8. “The U.S. total fertility rate fell in 2018 to 1.73 births per woman, the lowest rate ever recorded. In general, the U.S. total fertility rate was been below replacement fertility—the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself, usually defined as 2.1 births per woman—since 1971.”

    This is about women finding better things to do with their time than be stay at home moms. Let’s face it. Children will slow your career path down considerably, and with women going to college and joining the workforce like they have since 1971, they just don’t have the time.

    My understanding is that the same thing happens everywhere–regardless of culture. In Italy, where abortion was illegal and birth control was frowned on for religious reasons, the birth rate dropped below replacement from a much greater height over the same time period.

    The interesting question to me is what this means for the economy. Labor is a resource, having more of a resource is better, demographics have been destiny for a long time–and I’m not sure computerization or automation are the answer.

    Before the coronavirus and Trump’s trade war, the biggest challenge facing China was the hollowing out of its demographics due to the disastrous effects of its one-child policy. Japan’s economy has been stagnating since the early 1990s, and while plenty of people will tell you that’s a function of repeated failed attempts of Japan, Inc. and Keynesian stimulus, they wouldn’t have had such a hard time over the last 30 years if the demographics had been there.

    Point being, the computerization of industry and relative automation have already had their way with advanced nations like Japan and various countries in Europe over the last 30 years, but they’re all still suffering from graying populations and sluggish growth. If the revolutions we’ve had weren’t enough to make up for their demographic problems, I’m not sure we should expect them to save us either.

    Thank goodness for immigration.

    1. “Thank goodness for immigration.”

      At least Ken gets it! Would someone PLEASE pass the word to the xenophobic Trumptatorship!

      (No matter how responsible we are, and how hardworking we are, and how much money we save, our money will NOT feed us, change our bedsheets, or wipe our butts, while we linger on death’s doorstep, in our old age!!! Only PEOPLE can do these things! People = humans, not saved money!)

    2. Meanwhile, the illegal sub-humans will pay and pay and pay taxes into our system, and never benefit, till we grind them into the dirt, and very-very few are left to work their asses off to support us in our old age!

      Here is the latest version of that:
      https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/26/perspectives/stimulus-checks-undocumented-taxpayers/index.html
      These taxpayers won’t get stimulus checks. That’s unjust
      By Tim Breene for CNN Business Perspectives

      Updated 3:24 PM ET, Thu March 26, 2020

    3. If moms could afford to stay home family size would be 3-4 kids not 1-2. the Fed has devalued the currency and govt deficits and the Fed’s money printing has distorted markets, lowered real productivity, created bubbles and stagnated real wages while raising prices. End the Fed, downsize the govt. Mom’s could stay home and be moms again and family sizes could increase to their natural level.

      1. Mom doesn’t stay home and have four kids because she doesn’t want to stay home and have four kids.

        And, like I said, the phenomenon is universal: cross-culturally and throughout history, as women are educated and have more opportunities to contribute to family income by working outside the home, they have fewer children. It’s as true in the developing world as it is in the USA. It’s as true in central America as it is North Africa and India.

        The only other correlation with the same impact is declining infant mortality rates. Especially in countries without social security, kids are both free labor and a retirement plan. When you get too old to work, your kids are supposed to take care of you like you took care of them when they were infants. Having six kids makes a lot of sense when there is no Medicare, no social security, your chances of having a girl are one in two, and your chances of the boy not living to adulthood are one in four. You need more than one boy to survive, too, because you need your child to take care of you in addition to their own families.

        1. Also people are more free to leave the home. For my grandmother keeping a house was a full time job, everything had to be done by hand.

          My mother had time to join charitable groups, and social groups while raising me.

          My wife works full time and we catch up on the weekend for house work.

    4. Japan may be suffering a graying population and decades of stagnation, but their quality of life is still high, so that’s promising.

    1. And JFree is #1 fucking ignoramus!

  9. Another unintended consequence of prostituting our monetary system and devaluing our currency to enrich govt elites.

    The town I grew up in had 690 kids in my graduating class in 1981. Today there are 30% more homes but graduating classes of less than 500. Why? Families have less kids. Why? Well women are working full time so with day care most families top it out at 2 kids. Most of my friends in high school came from 3-4 kid families. Why are the moms working? Well boomer leftists pushed that agenda but even without it it is because to have a good middle class lifestyle both parents have to work. Why? because wages have not gone upon real dollars in decades. Why? The Fed has destroyed the nature business cycle, inflated prices/devalued the currency.

    No one ever ties the Fed and Govt deficit spending to this problem but there it is. I would have liked to have 4 or more kids but honestly even with my wife and I working full time we only had time, energy, and money for 2.

    1. I agree with your points, Titus!

      Also we have to pay inflated prices to over-educate our kids in order for them to make a bare-bones living! You need a PhD to be allowed to scratch someones butt for a dollar of pay, these days! (Actually, an MD degree and a license for proctology, for that).

      For instance, in my libertarian world, a cheap plastic flute would be OTC! Or a graduate of the third grade should be entitled to prescribe one! But as is, I need a prescription (permission) from a doctor of doctorology, to blow on a cheap plastic flute! And then we wonder why the kids can’t pay off their school loans!

      To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

      1. https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B018U1CVT8/reasonmagazinea-20/

        $6 is pretty cheap, and it even comes with a carrying bag. No prescription needed, either.

        1. That was pretty funny!!!

          WHO is gonna PROTECT US from these cheap plastic flutes?!?!?

    2. I would have liked to have 4 or more kids but honestly even with my wife and I working full time we only had time, energy, and money for 2.

      Mrs. Casual and I both work full time and have 3 kids. Off the top of my head, I know at least half a dozen couples/families where one or both parents work full time and they have 3-6 kids. The place I live in has dozens of single-breadwinner homes with 2-3 kids.

      The Fed is a bad thing. Falsely making excuses or generating non sequiturs is also a bad thing. Getting rid of The Fed isn’t going to give you more time or energy.

      1. Getting rid of The Fed isn’t going to give you more time or energy.

        And, without disagreeing with your overall point of getting rid of The Fed, isn’t exactly guaranteed to give you more money.

  10. I just bought a brand new BMW after having made $6375 this past one month and just over 12k last 4 week. This is the best and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had. I actually started this few Weeks ago and almost immediately started to bring home minimum 74BUCKS p/h… Read More

  11. Not sure why this Is a bad thing. 1.73 kids sounds like the right amount. And it’s not like 360 million is a worrying low population figure. Personally, I’m glad to see the further humiliation of Paul Erhlich, though the man’s so dense he doesn’t even understand he’s been humiliated.

    UN demographers predict a shrinking world population by 2050, and the drop in birth rates has already taken hold in most of third world countries. Ron Bailey’s book The End of Doom talks about that.

    1. Ehrlich is a case study in cognitive dissonance. He actually still thinks he was too optimistic when writing The Population Bomb. He laments that his way of thinking has become “depressingly mainline”, while also admitting that his predictions have not come true. I would blame dementia, but he’s been like this for over 60 years.

  12. Smaller population results in a short term problem regarding social security and whichever Medica is responsible for elder care. In the long run, the world still has enough geniuses and great leaders with a lesser impact on the environment. I mean 7 billion people is probably enough to handle any problem we might encounter.

    1. But is 7 billion enough to handle the problem of too many “geniuses” and “great leaders”?

  13. ★Makes $140 to $180 reliably online work and I got $16894 in one month electronic acting from home.I am a bit by bit understudy and work basically one to a few hours in my extra time.Everybody will finish that commitment and monline akes additional money by just open this link….. Click Here  

  14. Every month I am earning online more than $8650 by doing a very simply online job from my home. By doing this in my part time I was able to save enough to buy me a new car in just a few months. This is so freaking easy that everyone should try it… Start making some dollars online today by following instructions on this website… ——HERE…. w­­­w­­­w.n­­­­­e­­­­­w­­­­­b­­­­­o­­­­­x­­­3­­­.­­­c­­­o­­­m

  15. This is nothing. The US needs to return to the population it had 80 years ago, then stabilize there forever, and things would at least be a bit better.

Please to post comments