10 demographic trends shaping our lives

Shannon Roberts
May 9, 2017
Reproduced with Permission
Demography is Destiny

The Pew Research Centre recently announced their pick of the demographic trends currently shaping the lives of people living within the United States and around the world. They are as follows (with links to articles in which we have recently discussed these issues in greater detail):

1) There is a significant historical shift to greater numbers of young adults living with their parents - Marcus wrote about this a few days ago.

2) Family life is changing - For instance, just half of U.S. adults were married in 2015, down from 70% in 1950, and the "gray divorce" rate (divorces among those 50 and older) roughly doubled between 1990 and 2015. Carolyn Moynihan wrote about these family life trends a couple of months ago.

3) The percentage of women in the workforce may have peaked - Women accounted for 46.8% of the U.S. labor force in 2015, similar to the share in the European Union. Although women comprised a much larger share of the labor force in 2015 than in 1950 (29.6%), the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected the share of women in the workforce will peak at 47.1% in 2025 before tapering off. Carolyn Moynihan discussed issues relating to this trend last month.

4) Immigrants are driving overall workforce growth - Without immigrants, there would be an estimated 18 million fewer working-age adults in the United States in 2035 because of the dearth of U.S.-born children with U.S.-born parents. Read this article for a more in-depth look at this trend.

5) The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population fell in 2015 to below pre-recession levels, and the share of Mexicans within this population declined. There were 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2015, lower than the estimated 11.3 million in 2009, the last year of the Great Recession.

6) Immigrants are driving the United States birth rate - The important role of immigrant women in driving U.S. births stems from both the growth in the foreign-born population and the fact that immigrant women have, on average, more children than U.S.-born women. Births outside of marriage declined for immigrant women from 2008 to 2014, but remained the same for U.S.-born women. I wrote about this in some detail here .

7) Globally, babies born to Muslim mothers will outnumber babies born to Christian mothers by 2035 - largely driven by different fertility rates. The number of babies born to Christian mothers (223 million) far outnumbered the number of births to Muslim mothers (213 million) between 2010 and 2015. The number of births to Muslim women is projected to exceed births to Christian women by 2030-2035, with the disparity growing to 6 million by 2055-2060. Between 2010 and 2050, the global Muslim population is projected to grow 73%, while the Christian population will grow just 35%, about the rate of overall global population growth. Marcus recently surveyed the global Muslim population here .

8) The share of adults living in middle-income households fell in several countries in Western Europe, including Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway and Spain ( as it also did in the U.S. ).

9) European countries received a near-record 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2016. Some of these applicants may have applied for asylum in multiple countries or arrived in 2015, raising the total number of applications across Europe. Germany was the most common destination country in Europe, receiving 45% of applications. Marcus wrote about some of the effects of Europe's migrant crisis here .

10) The U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees in fiscal year 2016, the most since 1999. More than half resettled in one of just 10 states, with the largest numbers going to California and Texas. Nebraska, North Dakota and Idaho ranked near the top for the most refugees resettled per capita, with rates over two-and-a-half times the national average. And almost half (46%) of the fiscal 2016 refugees were Muslim , the highest number for any year since refugees' self-reported religious affiliation became publicly available in 2002.