Call to increase high-skilled migration to US

America's falling birth rate and heightened restrictions on immigration are threatening both national prosperity and security, according to a leading academic.

Balanced opportunities for women and men
Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, says that as the US birth rate has now fallen to 1.71 per woman from 2.12 in 2007, only a substantial increase in net migration - particularly among the highly skilled - will sustain the national population level necessary to support an ageing population.

Immigration: without it population and labour-force growth rates could potentially drop to below zero

Yet, he writes on the MarketWatch website, "Annual population and labour-force growth rate has fallen to about 0.5%, as the Trump administration has pushed down net immigration by more than 40% since 2016."Now, the coronavirus recession and a halting recovery could push down the birth rate further. Reluctance to accept immigrants from places where the pandemic is not under control, could take population and labour-force growth rates down even further — perhaps below zero."Prof Morici accepts that immigration is a "hot-button issue" throughout the industrialised world with populist movements gaining much momentum in Europe."Brexit happened and President Donald Trump was elected," he says. "However, most of the voter angst is concentrated in blue-collar communities bearing job losses from automation and tougher international competition."Well-educated immigrants tend to settle in fast-growing coastal cities and university-supported technology centres, where they pose fewer perceived threats. Immigration policy must shift from extended-family reunification and a lottery, to one that places more emphasis on highly skilled workers."

Social Security: the US paying more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes

Pointing out that, in 2018, the Social Security Administration began paying more benefits than it received in payroll taxes, Prof Morici says the ratio of working-age Americans to seniors has fallen from five in the early 1980s to 3.6 this year "and will likely be below three when the well runs dry".After that, he says, the Social Security Administration will have to operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, with Americans either having to pay dramatically higher payroll taxes or see benefits being radically cut.Prof Morici says that liberals in the US would like to see the introduction of many federally-funded, family-funded programmes introduced to reverse the declining birth rate. But he says that such schemes already exist in Europe but that the average birth rates in countries such as Germany, France, Italy and the UK are still about the same as in America."Women with university educations marry and have first babies much later and fewer children," he says. "Having a second or third child appears to be not nearly as attractive as putting more energy into a career and enjoying more independence from a male breadwinner.Related articles:

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Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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