More people means more people borrow money. A growing population absorbs some of the exponential increase in the money supply.
Over the 20th century, the US birthrate slowly declined from 25 births per thousand in 1915 to 15 births in 1975, and then to 12 by 2015.15
Researchers find this is a common phenomenon as societies achieve a certain level of wealth and health. Women have fewer children, and more women have no children at all. Population growth comes to a standstill, remaining at or below replacement. In the natural order of things equilibrium is established. In the natural order of things equilibrium is healthy.
But population equilibrium is not an option in our current money system. In a deep and insidious way, the needs of the money creation system have been adopted as the natural way of economies: we must grow exponentially larger to be considered healthy.
The US population overall has been growing at a declining rate – now at 0.7 percent – but, still growing. Since the 1970s, most of the increase in US population comes and will continue to come from poor immigrants and their children. Gretchen Livingston from the Pew Research Center reports “If immigrant moms had not been in the states, overall number of births would have actually declined in that time.” 17 Immigrants are the only way to keep population growing in a mature economy that requires exponential growth.
In 2018, 13 percent of the nation is foreign-born. One in three Americans is in the first or second generation of US residence.18 As well as having higher birthrates, immigrants add a vibrancy and energy to our nation. Our legal policy values the contributions of immigrants and allows roughly one million people to enter the US legally every year.19 Given our population of 326 million, this is a relatively tiny number – an addition of 0.3 percent.
But this level of absorption has not been enough to meet the demand of our current money system. The CDC says between births and deaths we have a net gain of about 1.2 million people each year.20 That’s an increase of only 0.3 percent. Authorized immigration brings it up to 0.7 percent. It’s not enough. So those who enter the US legally have been augmented by those who are here without authorization.
The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12. million, and has dropped to 11.3 million in 2016.
Eight million of the unauthorized immigrants are in the workforce in 2016 – again a decline since a peak of 8.3 million in 2007. They represent about 5 percent of the workforce.21 With no legal standing, they accept lower wages. Politico reports that, “trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wage of that group by at least 3 percent.” 22
So some fields, particularly low-skilled jobs have lower wages because of these unauthorized immigrants, which reduces buying power for all low-skilled labor. This increases borrowing – another win for the bankers. And, by taking many jobs at early-death wages, recent immigrants – both legal and illegal – keep the price of some things low for the rest of us, giving us more buying power. This exploitation is a moral issue. The inability to address immigration issues with honesty creates ill will, and an angry, cantankerous debate that goes nowhere.
If we value life for our grandchildren, we must find a way to stabilize or even allow the population to shrink naturally, while maintaining prosperity and innovation.
With combined legal and illegal immigration, our population has been increasing by an average of 1.2 percent since 1910. That’s more borrowers, but not enough to keep up with a money supply increasing on average 8 percent each year. So, if there are not enough borrowers, everyone must spend more so they must borrow more.