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Will Immigration Slow as Birth Rates Go Down?

March 4, 2013
Plain English Version

Demography is the study of populations. Global migration and birth rates affect every country. Some countries are growing larger, while most are getting smaller.

Today, 97 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where the fertility rate is falling. It is predicted that the overall population of the world will peak before the end of this century.

The fertility rate is the number of children the average women has in her lifetime. For the population of a country to stay stable, the average number has to be 2.1 children per woman. If the number is lower, the population declines.

Demographers’ predictions are based on population changes over the last fifty years. They say the fertility rate in Latin American countries is dropping. Women are giving birth below the replacement rate in countries like Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Costa Rica.

It usually means life becomes better in those countries and there is no need to migrate to richer countries.

About two-thirds of all the immigrants that came to the U.S. over the past 30 years came from Mexico. However, there was zero immigration from Mexico from 2005 to 2010. The lowering of the fertility rate was a major factor in the decline.

In 1970, the Mexican fertility rate was 6.72. Today, it is around 2.1.

If the trends in Mexico continue over the next several years, immigration from Mexico to the U.S. may drop to almost nothing.

Perhaps all the debate about immigration will become meaningless.

The Los Angeles Times

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