The Washington Post

Graph(s) of the day, part II: U.S. birthrate falls to lowest on record

Yes, Dylan already posted a graph of the day. But are you really going to object to another? Particularly when it's this important?

"The U.S. birth rate dipped in 2011 to the lowest ever recorded," 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, reports the Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends, citing preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics:

Why? Largely because of "a plunge in births to immigrant women since the onset of the Great Recession," the report said. Between 2007 and 2010, the birthrate for U.S.-born women decreased 6 percent, but "the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%—more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period."

A key contradiction in American public opinion is that many people simultaneously think that immigration is bad for the economy ("they're taking our jobs!") and that a low birthrate is bad for the economy. But they basically lead to the same economic problem: too many old people, not enough young people. The United States is lucky in that much of the world -- including many people with lots of skills -- wants to come here. The fact that our birthrate is dropping only strengthens the case for letting them in.

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