Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US Children Population Share Falling To Low As Senior Share Continues To Grow

From The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, "Census: Number of Children in U.S. Hits Low":
Currently, the share of children in the U.S. is 24%, falling below the previous low of 26% in 1990. The share is projected to slip further, to 23% by 2050, even as the percentage of people 65 and older is expected to jump from 13% today to roughly 20% by 2050 due to the aging of baby boomers and beyond.

In 1900, the share of children reached as high as 40%, compared to a much smaller 4% share for seniors 65 and older. The percentage of children in subsequent decades held above 30% until 1980, when it fell to 28% amid declining birth rates, mostly among whites.
A lack of young people will negatively impact new entrants into the US labor force in future years. Most new business starters are young workers and they also are the innovators. US innovation will decline unless compensating efforts are taken.

A smaller entering workforce, as a share of the population, will have effects. There will be less need for child related workers, such as teachers, pediatricians, child carers, etc. Many of these extra workers will shift into other fields, but employers may still find areas of worker shortages and have to cope.

I think a likely effect will be an easing of immigration rules so more young workers are available in the US. The demand and pressure will come from labor intensive employers, employers who need specialized skill workers and from politicians who will see a relaxing of immigration rules as the only way to increase tax revenues. Relaxing immigration restrictions will also enable the US workforce to continue to be innovators. Also, employers will become more willing to hire and continue to employ seniors, but the increase in the percentage of seniors will increase the competition among seniors for available jobs.

And of course, many unpredictable consequences will occur as a result of the decreasing percentage of younger people and the increasing percentage of seniors in the US.

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