In October 2013, the New Yorker magazine published a commentary by Elizabeth Kolbert about global population trends. Kolbert notes what many others have observed; birth rates are plummeting in wealthy industrialized nations with aging populations. She reports that what demographers call “total fertility rate” or TFR – the average number of children the average woman produces – is, in most developed countries, well below the basic replacement rate of 2.0 children per woman. In Singapore, for example, the TFR is 0.79; in Taiwan, it’s 1.1; and in South Korea, it’s 1.2. European countries including Italy, Spain, and Germany currently have a TFR below 1.5.
The problem is that as populations age and eventually decline, developed nations have fewer workers supporting more retirees, creating a social welfare crunch and putting these nations at a technological disadvantage, as the young tend to be more tech-savvy. At the moment, the TFR in the United States is about 2.06, not high enough to ease stresses on the social welfare system as more “baby boomers” reach age 65 and retire. Social Security, for example, was originally built on the conviction that there would always be more young people paying for benefits than elderly people receiving them.
The message for leaders in the United States is obvious. Other developed nations will compete with us to attract the world’s best and brightest; thus, Congress should do whatever it takes to ensure that the U.S. remains the favored destination of skilled immigrant workers. Comprehensive immigration reform is the imperative first step.
If you’re an immigrant or a potential immigrant looking to work in the United States, or if you are an employer seeking to hire skilled immigrant workers, the first thing to do is to speak with an experienced immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can explain the pertinent immigration laws and help you with applications, visa petitions, hearings, and more. If you are an immigrant worker or a U.S.-based employer dealing with any immigration issue, contact an experienced immigration attorney promptly.