The time will therefore come when one hundred and fifty millions of men will be living in North America, equal in condition, the progeny of one race, owing their origin to the same cause, and preserving the same civilization, the same language, the same religion, the same habits, the same manners, and imbued with the same opinions, propagated under the same forms. The rest is uncertain, but this is certain; and it is a fact new to the world -- a fact fraught with such portentous consequences as to baffle the efforts even of the imagination.
--Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America."
THIS bold prophecy of de Tocqueville's was first published in 1840. It referred roughly to America north of the Rio Grande, and numerically was fulfilled in a little more than a century. The combined population of the United States and Canada reached 150,000,000 in 1944 -- a nine-fold increase since 1840. The mid-1950 figure will be about 165,000,000, comprising 7 percent of the world's population as compared with about 1.5 percent in 1840. The degree of homogeneity attained by these peoples is assuredly less than de Tocqueville envisaged, relatively impressive though it is. But he correctly foresaw their profound significance for world affairs.
As of 1950, the future significance of this area requires emphasis on two other points. First, notable increases in per capita productivity and consumption bid fair to continue, and there is yet no sign that American "labourers will in time be much less liberally rewarded" than in 1798, as Malthus once predicted. Second, contrary to expert opinion in recent decades, substantial population growth lies ahead. No serious student would now consider 176,000,000 a "realistic" forecast for both 1980 and 2000, even "provided there is no heavy immigration," as one did in a survey of growth prospects as late as September 1944.[i] After the momentous upsurge of the 1940's, at least 50,000,000 more can be expected by the century's end. The view that the United States will reach a population peak and begin to decline before 2000 is being replaced by the view
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