In my last post I discussed the challenges facing the U.S. from the two strongest autocratic powers in the world: China and Russia. We simply cannot afford to be complacent about our current status as the world’s strongest superpower.
But there is also good news on this front. The American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt has a report in the current issue of Foreign Affairs about the demographic advantages enjoyed by the U.S. Consider:
- With 1.4 billion people and rapid economic growth, China appears headed to surpass the U.S. as the world’s leading power. But China will likely see its population peak by 2027. Its total fertility rate of 1.6 and dropping is far below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. By 2040 China will have 325 million people over the age of 65, twice as many as under the age of 15.
- Despite its high levels of schooling, Russia has low levels of human capital. With a population of 145 million, it earns fewer U.S. patents each year than the state of Alabama. It earns less from service exports than Denmark and has less privately held wealth than Sweden.
- United States. By maintaining our current net (legal) immigration rate of one million per year, our population will increase to 380 million by 2040. It will be a younger population than almost any other rich democracy and our working age population will still be expanding.
- Indonesia, Philippines and India. These emerging democracies are growing rapidly. All three countries have increasingly young and well educated populations. The U.S. should court these rising powers.
Summary. “It would be a geopolitical tragedy if the postwar economic and security order that the United States built really were to fade from the scene: no alternative arrangement is likely to promise as much freedom and prosperity to so many people.” We can win this struggle if we do not succumb to complacency. Demographics are in our favor.