Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2021 / 04:00 am
New Census numbers show the U.S. had its slowest decade of population growth since the Great Depression - and experts say this confirms a pre-existing downward trend.
On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its decennial count of population and housing. Data revealed that the U.S. population growth in the past decade was the slowest in nearly a century.
Demographic experts told CNA that the Census numbers were possibly worse than the already-muted expectations for population growth.
“We’ve known for quite a while that this Census was going to show a relatively low growth rate. It ultimately showed an even lower one than we expected, so it’s sort of a pessimistic indicator overall - that is, things are worse than we thought,” said Lyman Stone, research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies.
With warnings swirling of a “baby bust” – a sharp decline in the birth rate due to the pandemic and its economic consequences – the Census numbers are “like a nail in the coffin,” said Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, director of social research and assistant professor at the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business.
“We’re seeing the [birth rate] trend, the trend was already downward,” she said.
A long-term decline in the birth rate reaches back to the 19th century, Pakaluk noted. While certain demographics, such as immigrant populations, might have higher birth rates than others, eventually all demographics converge on a fertility rate decline in the United States.
“As society has gotten wealthier, we’re seeing fewer and fewer children born. And so what exactly is explaining that?” she asked, noting that a post-World War II “baby boom” was an anomaly in the 20th century.