Friday, April 6, 2007

The Future Need for Labor: An Impending Crisis?

SHANNON O'NEIL, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who teaches in the political science department at Columbia University, wrote an interesting op/ed in the LA Times (here). It begins:

AS MANY IN Congress, in the media and in homes across the country debate the best way to stem the flow of undocumented workers across the Rio Grande, they don't seem to be aware that this perceived problem is becoming increasingly irrelevant. In fact, the immigration concern of the future could well be how to entice Mexicans and other Latin Americans to cross into the U.S. in the numbers we need. Mexico is undergoing a demographic transition. According to the Mexican census bureau, long gone are the days of families with six, seven or 10 kids. Instead, Mexican women now average 2.2 births — only slightly above the average 2.1 births that occur in the United States and that are considered the "replacement rate," the level needed to maintain a stable population over time. Life expectancy in Mexico has increased to 75 years, compared to 77 in the United States. With fewer births and longer lives, by 2050, Mexico will become as old as the United States. In short, Mexico is about to age dramatically.


The commentary proceeds to contend that Mexican labor is drying up and the United States will likely soon find itself in dire need of immigrantlabor. For a discussion of the commmentary on The Economist's View blog, click here.


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