The Economist:A satirical film in 2004, called “A Day Without a Mexican”, imagined Californians running scared after their cooks, nannies and gardeners had vanished. Set it in today’s America and it would be a more sobering drama. If 57m Hispanics were to disappear, public-school playgrounds would lose one child in four and employers from Alaska to Alabama would struggle to stay open. Imagine the scene by mid-century, when the Latino population is set to have doubled again.
Listen to some, and foreign scroungers threaten America, a soft-hearted country with a wide-open border. For almost two centuries after America was founded, more than 80% of its citizens were whites of European descent. Today, non-Hispanic whites have dropped below two-thirds of the population. They are on course to become a minority by 2044. At a recent gathering of Republicans with presidential ambitions, a former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, growled about “illegal people” rushing in “because they’ve heard that there is a bowl of food just across the border.”
Politicians are right that a demographic revolution is under way. But, as our special report this week shows, their panic about immigration and the national interest is misguided. America needs its Latinos. To prosper, it must not exclude them, but help them realise their potential.
Those who whip up border fever are wrong on the facts. The southern frontier has never been harder to cross. Recent Hispanic population growth has mostly been driven by births, not fresh immigration. Even if the borders could somehow be sealed and every unauthorised migrant deported — which would be cruel and impossible — some 48m legally resident Hispanics would remain. Latino growth will not be stopped.
They are also wrong about demography. From Europe to north-east Asia, the 21st century risks being an age of old people, slow growth and sour, timid politics. Swelling armies of the elderly will fight to defend their pensions and other public services. Between now and mid-century, Germany’s median age will rise to 52. China’s population growth will flatten and then fall; its labour force is already shrinking. Not America’s. By 2050 its median age will be a sprightly 41 and its population will still be growing. Latinos will be a big part of that story. [Continue reading…]