America’s Future Depends on the Bedroom, Not the Border


With a historically low unemployment rate, America is running low on workers in everything from high-tech to construction, manufacturing and services as Donald Trump’s stronger immigration policies help raise wages for existing US workers, from the lowest paid to well-paid construction workers, for the first time in decades.

President Trump’s much criticized claim that America is “full” may have been taken out of context, since it referred to the immigration system, but it has also ignited interest in demographics. More immigration, and even higher salaries won’t solve our impending demographic crisis, and there are already many more jobs here than workers to fill them, and that gap is growing. There are over six million open positions, more than five times the annual supply of migrants, documented or otherwise. This could be addressed in part by opening the border—something only one in five Americans favor, although such calls have become popular on the political left, including over a third of all Democrats—or, more workably, by making immigration policy more responsive to our labor needs.

The most direct path to a potent economy doesn’t run through the border, however, but into the bedroom, with critical steps, particularly on housing, that could lift sagging domestic birthrates.

Depopulating trends are global, across the developed world. After decades of worrying when Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb” would go off, we are seeing a rapid decline in child-rearing, so much so that, for the first time, there are more grandparents than grandchildren on the planet. The lower birthrates are leading some demographers to suggest that global populations, instead of growing into the next century, will start to decline as early as 2070.

In the US, a report from the Brookings Institution shows that from 2006 through 2017, the population of child-bearing-age offspring of native-born Americans dropped by half a percentage point per year. The Congressional Budget Office foresees the American labor force rising by only 0.5 percent a year over the coming decade, about one-third the rate from 1950 to 2007.

Read the entire piece on The Daily Beast.

Joel Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, director of the Chapman Center for Demographics and Policy and executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism in Houston, Texas. He is author of eight books and co-editor of the recently released Infinite Suburbia. He also serves as executive director of the widely read website and is a regular contributor to, Real Clear Politics, the Daily Beast, City Journal and Southern California News Group.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international public policy and demographics firm. He is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), Senior Fellow for Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California). He is co-author of the "Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey" and author of "Demographia World Urban Areas" and "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life." He was appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. Speaker of the House of Representatives appointed him to the Amtrak Reform Council. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

Photo credit: daveparker [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons