Home / General / Two observations on today’s Douthat column

Two observations on today’s Douthat column


First: Kudos to the headline writer, who I have to believe was entirely aware of the dark humorous effect of putting the phrase “More Babies, Please” directly above Douthat’s sneering visage.

Second: while there’s generally a hefty amount of dishonesty in Douthat’s columns, one claim from today’s stands out: “with fertility in decline across Mexico and Latin America, it isn’t clear that the United States can continue to rely heavily on immigrant birthrates to help drive population growth.”

The US currently admits a tiny fraction of those who apply for legal resident status, and the number who apply is almost certainly depressed by the extraordinarily long odds of success, especially for those without a plausible asylum claim or family reunification angle. We could change immigration policy to admit substantially more immigrants than we now do, and this will likely to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. Should demand from Mexico and Latin America decline, the difference could easily be made up elsewhere. Indeed, if migrant supply somehow fails to meet migrant demand at some point in the foreseeable future, one of two things will be true: the standard of living across the developing world has risen by a remarkable degree, or the standard of living in the US has utterly collapsed. The former would be a cause for celebration of such magnitude that the US having to figure out how to deal with a modestly declining population will hardly register as a problem worth noting. In the case of the latter,  the disaster will be of such a magnitude that our immigration worries should be the least of our concerns.

Of course, a steady or slightly growing population generated by high immigration rather than birth rates will lead to a more racially and culturally diverse polity. This would be a welcome development for a host of reasons, one of which would be that it would hasten the coming of the moment in which the Republican party is forced to choose between being a nationally competitive party or a party heavily invested in nativist white identity politics.

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