Saturday, April 07, 2007


Links between Population Aging and Immigration policies


Recently we have come across an interesting discussion of our academic studies on population aging in a context of its implications to immigration policies. This discussion was published in Asheville Citizen-Times, NC on March 18, 2007:

Immigration policies should be realistic, humane

Young immigrants in questionable states of documentation are being forced into unpleasant, sometimes inhumane circumstances by our current immigration laws. The most recent cases involve school-age children, and even pre-schoolers. These laws need to be changed so that we can bring young people into the USA, particularly (but not exclusively) from places where there is an excess of young people, and hence a shortage of employment for them.

Increasingly, in advanced countries like the USA, there is a shortage of young people. And, given our birth rates in the more developed area of the world, the only way to solve this problem is with sensible, scientifically-based immigration policies that favor friendly countries, and especially those with higher percentages of young people than we have.

The table in this article was adapted from “Aging of Population” by Leonid A. Gavrilov and Patrick Heuveline, in the Encyclopedia of Population, New York, Macmillan Reference USA, 2003 ( It shows observed and predicted percentages of people under 65 years of age (i.e., working-age percentages) by various regions of the world for the years 2000 and 2050.

The areas with higher percentages of working-age people than we have are shown.

This shows that we need a policy that allows us to help friendly countries, including those with excess youth, send immigrants to the U.S., while helping the U.S. retain an appropriate percentage of its population in the work force. Furthermore, we need these people not as guest workers, but as US citizens paying taxes, contributing to Social Security and generally feeling they belong, and are not unwanted aliens.

Percentages of Working-age People (under age 65), by Region:

Major Region: 2000, 2050

World: 93% , 81%

Africa: 97%, 93%

Latin America, Caribbean: 95%, 83%

China: 93%, 77%

India: 95%, 85%

Japan: 83%, 64%

Europe: 85%, 71%

U.S.A.: 88%, 79%

There are many emotional issues related to immigration, but looking at the world’s people together, as a group, not as nationalities, it is objectively evident that countries with younger populations will likely have trouble finding work for all their young people. And it is equally clear that countries with older populations will need help in their service industries.

So let’s make policies that are both humane and realistic. We’ll all benefit that way.

Rob Quayle is a retired climatologist who worked at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville for 35 years. He currently lives in Oteen.

Key words:
population aging, immigration policies, immigrants, immigration laws, aging of population, Social Security

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