America’s biggest advantage over the rest of the world, in one graph

June 25, 2012

For all its troubles, the U.S. economy does have one major advantage over the world's biggest industrialized nations over the next few decades: demographics. "Within four decades the U.S. will likely have one of the lowest percentages of elderly citizens, and one of the highest rates of working-age bodies among large economies," the Motley Fool points out.

(Motley Fool, the US Census Bureau)

It's largely because of America's big immigrant population: Hispanics, for instance, have a higher birth rate than average, and the influx of immigrants in the late 20th century will continue to have a major impact in the 21st. "China, meanwhile, will see its working-age population plunge and its elderly ranks soar -- an echo of its one-child policy. Europe falls deeper into age-based stagnation. Alas, Japan becomes the global equivalent of Boca Raton," the Motley Fool explains.

Joel Kotkin argues, accordingly, that Americans should fear a slowdown in immigration to the United States rather than the opposite if they truly care about the country's economic prospects.


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Ezra Klein · June 25, 2012