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 that substantial growth of unpredictable magnitude will continue.

In elaborating this point and considering some international bearings of the changed population outlook, I shall deal primarily with the United States.[ii] But if Canada were included my argument would be much the same.

The productivity of the United States during and after the war was astoundingly above the level of the 1930's, when millions were unemployed. In consequence, according to one crude but useful index, per capita personal consumption rose even during the war. The postwar level has been still higher, in spite of heavy drafts upon our national product for private and public investment, defense, and overseas aid; and the current level, after the turn of the postwar boom, is much above the prewar peak of the late 1920's. Indexes of health and welfare, such as infant mortality rates and life expectancy at birth, also show noteworthy gains. When the full story of the 1940's can be told, these facts will help to explain the utterly unexpected upsurge of population.

Between the wars there was a notable expansion and intensification of population research in the United States, by private and public agencies. Further strides were made in the 1940's. A major part of this work consisted in improving basic vital statistics and making many detailed analyses and sample studies, unequaled elsewhere. Another part was devoted to making what are best called "projections" of the population for several decades ahead, on various combinations of assumptions,[iii] and then selecting one or two of these projections (best termed "forecasts") that seemed most likely to fit the evolving facts.

During the 1930's the population specialists also crystallized their judgments about the outlook. They were reluctant to pin their faith on any specific projections, and warned that the actual population would deviate more or less from those that were selected as the most reasonable. Yet they believed that such forecasts could not be very far wrong; they were in essential agreement on several important points; they undertook to discuss at length the implications of the expected trends; and they argued for public policies to deal with the expected consequences.

The following may be taken as the consensus, as it might have been expressed in 1938: (1) The rate of increase of population is falling, partly because of shrunken immigration but mainly because of lower fertility rates, and in spite of very low death rates. (2) The long-term decline in the birth rate, which was accelerated in 1920-40, will continue until it is below levels adequate for population replacement -- levels already reached in some sectors of the population in the 1930's. (3) The number of children under age five, which had begun to fall in the 1920's, will continue to decline, and fall still more as a percentage of the total population. (4) The number of children of elementary school age, and the number enrolled in elementary schools, will never again reach the peaks of about 1930. (5) The number of youths of secondary school age will fall from a peak to be reached about 1940, and the fall in enrollment in secondary schools can be only temporarily deferred by encouraging more years of schooling. (6) The number of persons aged 65 and over will continue to rise, and they will constitute a steadily rising fraction of the total population. (7) The aging of the population will continue indefinitely, as old people become more numerous and young people less numerous. (8) The national labor force will therefore reach a peak and tend to shrink after two or three decades. (9) Future accretions of population will be of diminishing size, unless immigration again becomes substantial, until an all-time peak is reached within three or four decades. (10) The population will subsequently decline from this peak, unless immigration barriers are relaxed or effective stimuli to the production of children are discovered and provided; perhaps both will be needed to prevent the decline. (11) The major problem of population policy is to prevent such decline, or at least to check it in time lest it go too far. (12) The economic and social problems which the nation faces, in consequence of this population prospect, are radically different from those that we have hitherto faced or expected to face.

These views were widely accepted by private scholars and government agencies. Indeed, the population forecasts themselves were regarded as scientific and reliable to a degree that sometimes was embarrassing to their authors. More and more forecasts were urgently demanded to serve as a basis for planning of all sorts.

The outbreak of war in Europe led to no revision of the demographers' convictions about the American population prospect. Indeed, in July 1941 the Census Bureau published as its first forecast one of the projections (assuming medium rates of mortality and fertility and no net immigration) made by Thompson and Whelpton in 1935-37. After the United States was drawn into full belligerency, the near outlook became clouded, but the former opinions as to the longer run were strengthened. New projections by the same experts published in August 1943 were somewhat higher than those published in May 1938, because the natural increase in 1935-40 was larger than had been assumed; but they made no allowance for unpredictable war losses, which were expected to be sizable. Moreover, a wartime "deficit" of births was expected, and the net effect of our participation in the war was confidently expected to be an acceleration of the prewar downtrend in the rate of population increase.

Fresh projections made by Whelpton and the Census Bureau in 1945-46 took account of the facts that war losses had proved small, that wartime births showed a "surplus" instead of a deficit, and that a postwar bulge in births could be expected. The new projection on the same combination of assumptions, which the Census Bureau published in September 1946 as its forecast, was therefore above the former one. But a subsequent sharp decline in births was predicted for 1947 or 1948, and the prewar downtrend in fertility was expected soon to be resumed. A view expressed in 1943 was repeated in 1947 (with important qualifications not stressed): ". . . . the prospect of an eventual cessation of population growth is inherent in the present age structure of the population. . . ." [iv] A new Census Bureau forecast published in February 1949 revised its standing forecast only so far as 1960. A month later one leading specialist reasserted his longstanding convictions "that the slower growth of our population will soon be resumed and that within two or three decades we shall not have even a crude natural increase."[v]

Nevertheless, the demographers have begun to change their views, and hitherto obscured dissenting opinions among them are coming to light. The organ of the Population Association of America stated a year ago: "Until recently the course of population development in Western nations was generally believed to be well charted and understood. This is now a matter of some doubt." Let us explore the grounds for "doubt," as to the United States.

II

For the decade about to end in mid-1950, the evidence is amply clear, though well-based post-census estimates are subject to revision after the 1950 census data have been analyzed. The population developments of the 1940's were striking in themselves, and utterly at variance with prewar forecasts and generalizations. Assumptions that seemed reasonable proved unreasonable. The resultant errors were not merely in degree, but in kind as well. But only recently have the earlier projections, forecasts and generalizations been reëxamined in the light of current materials.

The population of the continental United States in mid-1950, including those in armed services overseas, will be close to 152,-000,000. This is within 15,000,000 of the all-time peaks indicated by several forecasts, including the standing official one of 164,585,000 in 1990. It is already far above two or three important prewar forecasts, one of which, for example, had indicated 137,084,000 in 1950 and a peak of 139,457,000 in 1960.[vi]

The population increase in the 1940's was nearly 20,000,000, quite the largest on record. Both the absolute increase and the percentage increase were more than double those of the 1930's, instead of smaller as commonly predicted. The decennial rate of increase, about 15 percent, was not much less than it had been in 1910-30. The decennial rate of natural increase (i.e. apart from immigration) was higher than in these decades and much the same as in 1890-1910. For the first time in American history, since 1790 at least, except for the decade including the brief Mexican War of 1846-47, a war decade showed a higher rate of population increase than the preceding one.

The most astounding change was in the number of births. Instead of being fewer than in the 1930's, the total of more than 32,000,000 in 1940-50 will be some 8,000,000 larger than the 24,000,000 that were expected -- about one-third more. In the 12 months ending August 31, 1945, the number of births was larger than in any peacetime calendar year except 1921, when the upsurge following World War I occurred. According to standing estimates, births in the calendar years 1940-44 slightly exceeded the previous five-year record of 14,263,000 in 1920-24. In the five years ending with June 1950 the total will approach 18,000,000. The "super-high" fertility assumption for 1945-50, implying 15,000,000 births in this five-year period, will be exceeded by about 20 percent. The extraordinary postwar peak of nearly 4,000,000 births in 1946-47 was not followed, as firmly predicted, by a sharp drop toward the average of the 1930's. Up to the end of 1949, moving 12-month totals continued to run about 50 percent above that average and within 8 percent of those of the record year.

The full explanation of these events is not at hand. The demographers feel sure that a considerable part of the unexpected increase (perhaps 3,000,000 to 6,000,000) represents births "postponed" from the 1930's plus others "borrowed" from the 1950's. This plausible hypothesis is yet to be tested. Certainly marriages were speeded up, the average age at first marriage declined, the proportion of the population married rose, and the median age of maternity declined. It is too early to say with assurance whether these tendencies will continue, merely persist, or be reversed, and whether the number of children per completed family is actually increasing. But the facts clearly show a notable rise in the crude birthrate, in sharp contrast to what has been considered a harmful downward trend.

The greater part of the understatement in successive forecasts is attributable to gross underestimate of births. Mainly for this reason, wartime and postwar revisions of previous forecasts have shown no improvement in what may be called their "angle of error." In mid-1950, indeed, the official forecast released in September 1946 will be about 6,000,000 too low; even the highest of the eight projections published late in 1947 will be nearly 4,000,000 too low; and the short-run official forecast published in February 1949 will be nearly 2,000,000 too low.

Important conclusions can be drawn from this sobering experience. Until techniques can be devised for predicting births within a reasonable margin of error, forecasts of the total population can be far wrong for even a few years ahead, and very far wrong for several decades ahead. Meanwhile, forecasting efforts might better be concentrated on perfecting the forecasts of the size of age groups already born. Those who consult population forecasts should use these for most purposes, and take far less seriously any combination of such forecasts with uncertain projections of future births or survivors of those yet to be born. It is time to stop asking the impossible of the forecasters, and it is unfair to condemn them for failures in overambitious attempts to meet unwarranted demands.

In passing, let me observe that the United States is by no means the only country for which prewar forecasts have been upset, or seriously called in question, by developments in the 1940's. Most of the standing forecasts for other countries require fundamental revision, not only because of war losses and postwar peaks in births, but also because important assumptions underlying the projections no longer merit confidence. For the Soviet Union the basis for projections was exceptionally weak, reliable data for recent decades are extremely limited, and the area concerned has changed. Under the circumstances, I can give no credence to Notestein's very guarded conclusions pointing to 251,000,000 by 1970 (ignoring war losses) and around 300,000,000 in 2000.[vii]

III

While experience has undermined faith in the demographers' forecasts and in the trends on which they relied, it has not provided a reliable basis for predictions even for the next few decades. Yet that limited future will be profoundly influenced by what has already occurred. The flood of births in the 1940's, coupled with improvements in health that have kept raising survival rates, have highly important consequences. The number of children under five in mid-1950, instead of being smaller than a decade earlier, will be about 50 percent larger. Contrary to confident predictions that this age group would make up a continually declining fraction of the total population, the percentage has risen sharply in the 1940's, reversing a downtrend of more than a century. The size of this group continued to grow through the calendar year 1949, and the end of its increase is not yet in sight. The consequent increasing additions to school enrollment are already in evidence. The consequent future accretions to the school population, the labor force, marriageable persons, prospective parents, and eventually old people are already reasonably predictable.

Prominent among the demographic factors at work in the 1940's, in my own view, was the high level of employment at good remuneration practically throughout the decade. Demographers are increasingly eager to have reliable economic forecasts as a basis for their own. For their purposes, however, long-run trends of productivity and consumption per capita are even more important than ups and downs of business. About these trends reputable economists now feel increasingly confident, whereas short-run forecasting is still a risky business. In sharp contrast to the former popularity of the doctrine of "secular stagnation" in a "mature economy," there is a current tendency to paint in bright colors the picture of rapid rise in per capita output and consumption. Though I am reluctant to endorse either extreme, the available facts seem to me to lend support to the newer doctrine. Despite the lack of secure basis for forecasts of the total population, therefore, there are grounds for confidently expecting a substantial increase in the next 30-50 years, even if the birth rate should soon fall well below the average of the 1940's.

We can safely assume continued improvement in mortality experience even though, as numbers in the upper-age groups swell, the crude death rate must sometime rise above the present low of less than 10 per 1,000. We can also reasonably assume that net immigration will continue to average well above zero, though small in comparison with our net population increase. Two other points are more crucial to my reasoning: (1) The huge number of babies born in the 1940's will mostly survive to have another flood of babies in the 1960's and 1970's, even if the number of children per completed family is little above the depression low. (2) Our people's standard of living includes, and will continue to include, not only liberal consumption per capita, but also marriage and children; and the competition between consumer goods and children, which was exceptionally powerful in 1920-40, will be less so in the next few decades.

Catastrophes greater than World War II, or an unprecedented combination of political and economic blunders, might prevent the minimum increase of 48,000,000 in 50 years which I expect to cause our population almost certainly to exceed 180,000,000 in 1980 and 200,000,000 in 2000. I foresee nothing else that would. The minimum figures thus put forward are large only in comparison with all reputable forecasts of the past 30 years. Otherwise, they are extremely moderate. The implied increase of 8,000,000 in 1950-60 is less than the actual increase in the 1930's, and those of 10,000,000 in each of the next four decades are less than in any other decade since 1860-70. The implicit decennial rates of increase are less than the record low of the depressed 1930's. If our population should increase only at the average rate of that decade (7.23 percent), it would reach 215,000,000 in the year 2000. Whelpton's highest 1947 projection, which will be 4,000,000 too low in 1950, points to 193,000,000 in 1980 and more than 220,000,000 in 2000. Continuing increase in the next 50 years at the average rate of the 1940's, which seems to me highly improbable, would bring us to more than 300,000,000 in 2000. To the extent that we avoid deep and protracted depressions, maintain consistently high-level employment, and realize our growing economic potentials, our population may well rise above the minimum I suggest, in the direction of the high projection last mentioned.

At all events, the new population outlook is radically different from that of ten years ago. Even the grounds on which most experts predicted a population peak of some size at some time have vanished for the calculable future. For several reasons, they have been slow to arrive at this general conclusion, but I expect them to do so in due course. Even before the new outlook is widely accepted, and while many of its features are far from clear, it seems proper to explore a few aspects of the international significance of our recent and prospective population developments.

IV

Our most basic resource is our people. Both numbers and quality are important. Surely it is highly significant that the United States is still a vigorously growing nation; that it is being replenished primarily by internal growth, not by conquest, domination or immigration; that our high median age (still under 30 years) reflects no abnormal proportion of the elderly and aged; and that the growth is compatible with improving levels of education and living. Former ideas that our population might fall to 100,000,000 in a few decades, or that our economy could hardly support more, now seem incredible. The strength of this nation 30-50 years hence promises to be far greater than had seemed likely.

For the world at large, one important consequence of the new population outlook is that the American economy will display greater stability than could be expected with a slowly growing, stationary or declining population. The flood of births in the 1940's implies gradually rising, urgent demands for years to come, and the proportion of the more urgent to the less urgent wants promises to be much greater than expected. The errors in economic forecasts in 1945 would probably have been much smaller if the population developments had been more accurately analyzed. The high level of marriages and births in the 1940's helped to smooth the transition from the war economy, and has contributed to the relative stability of the mixed wartime and peacetime economy of today. The backlog of urgent needs for housing, schools, public utilities and durable goods of certain kinds is still large, and requirements for private and public investment, stretching over a period not yet determinate, are far beyond limits envisaged a decade ago. The prophesied necessity for liberal public expenditures to supplement chronically weak consumer demand, in order to keep our economy productively at work, seems at least remote. So also is its threat of increasing displacement of private enterprise by state action.

The high tide of births in the 1940's will tend to be followed in due time by floodtides in school enrollments, entrants into the labor force, marriages, and even births. But the ebb and flow of such tides can be roughly predicted, so far as they are due to births up to the date of forecast, and such irregularities as they cause need not endanger essential stability of the economy.

The size of the future labor force will be profoundly affected by what has already occurred. Relying on now obsolete 1947 projections, John D. Durand said in his excellent study: "Unless the underlying population trend is changed the time will come after a few more decades when the labor force will cease to grow." [viii] This opinion is ripe for revision. In the light of the 1940's as a whole, it is very difficult to ascertain "the underlying population trend," if indeed there is such a thing. Opinions differ as to whether the prewar trend, as interpreted at that time, will be resumed, or whether the true trend was different from that assumed, or whether a new trend will be established. Certainly, the large number of births in the 1940's, coupled with the high survival rate, practically insures a substantial growth of the labor force in the 1960's and 1970's. It is reasonable to expect another upsurge in youthful entrants late in the century. In short, there is good basis for expecting the broad uptrend of the labor force to extend beyond the year 2000 at least.

Durand also said that "the trend of labor supply in this country is one factor which tends to put the United States at a disadvantage, by comparison with other countries that have a rapidly growing labor force, in expanding the volume of its potential production and increasing its military power." This position is open to serious question, not alone upon the ground that the labor force will presumably rise instead of fall. It can be reasonably argued that one of the great advantages the United States had during World War II was the large reserve of potential labor represented by those who could be drawn into active employment and by increasing the number of working hours above the customary level.

Another factor lies over the horizon. Extension of the five-day work week, and eventual reductions in weekly hours, may reasonably be expected to increase the number of persons who will enter or remain in the labor force on a part-time if not full-time basis. Recognition of the psychological value of work for the handicapped and elderly, and of their competence in various tasks in the light of wartime experience, may be expected to grow as the ranks of the elderly are swelled.

Sociologists have viewed with misgiving the wide prevalence of what is termed "differential fertility." With few exceptions, the higher the level of urbanization, income, education, and living as a whole, the lower seemed to be the birth rate. Even with lowered death rates in the higher-level groups, the population has tended to be replenished mainly from the lower groups and not even maintained in the upper. It has often been confidently assumed that rising levels of urbanization, income, education and living would bring further declines in birth rates. Actually, comparative analyses as of a given time are inadequate to support this inference as to changes over time.

The notable resurgence of fertility in the 1940's accompanied important gains in income and consumption levels, and is continuing while levels of education and living are rising further. Moreover, there are indications that the rise in fertility has been relatively greater in the higher levels of income and education than in the lower, and in the urban populations than in the rural. If such changes are confirmed, the degree of adverse differential fertility will have diminished; and the possibility that they may continue deserves careful watching.

In recent decades, an international differential fertility has thrust itself upon our attention. By and large, the more advanced nations had showed marked declines in rates of population growth, while numerous countries that were relatively "underdeveloped" showed higher and rising rates of population increase. Demographers were generally convinced that these trends would continue. They believed that the more advanced countries were in or approaching a stage of stationary or declining population, and that the great growth of world population in the decades ahead would be in more backward countries which succeed in reducing their high death rates while their birth rates fall much more slowly. In an address in September 1948, Warren S. Thompson expressed the highly pessimistic views that in Asia potential gains in level of living will be largely submerged in "immediate and overwhelming population increase," while in the West "the uncontrolled use of contraceptives threatens to cost the nations which have been the greatest practitioners of science their political and economic dominance."

Whatever the truth in such convictions, I interpret the recent evidence to indicate that not only the United States, but at least Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well, have been wrongly put into a category of nations labeled "incipient decline." Instead, they now seem to fit into a new group in which a substantial rate of population increase can, and probably will, be maintained by a combination of very low mortality, moderate fertility and moderate immigration. In such countries developing productivity and prospective standards of living promise to yield significant gains in levels of living [ix] and unexpectedly if not absolutely high rates of population increase. Normally, this group of countries in the year 2000 will constitute a higher percentage of the world's population than it did in 1940. But no one is competent to predict how long the world total will continue to grow at an increasing rate, as it evidently has been in the past three centuries.

V

The agricultural impact of our prospective population growth, coupled with uptrends in per capita consumption, will be felt predominantly through increase of domestic demand for farm products and farmers' services. The former population outlook implied an early decline in this demand, since the population increase was expected soon to be chiefly in the upper ages. Failure to recognize the changed population prospect accounts for much of the pessimism of recent analyses of the long-run agricultural outlook.[x] The danger of chronic surpluses no longer seems acute, except as the surpluses result from maladjusted agricultural policies. But no one can safely project the changing pressures of imports and exports, for agricultural products and others, under the influence of demographic, economic and political factors here and abroad.

Under the newer outlook three sources of increased domestic demand will be important, in different degrees with different farm products: 1, larger numbers of consumers; 2, increasing requirements per consumer as babies grow to maturity; and 3, increased per capita consumption as wants are backed by rising real purchasing power.

In regard to the first we may note that there is more error than truth in Adam Smith's dictum, "The desire of food is limited in every man by the narrow capacity of the human stomach." Yet the mere increase in the number of consumers, perhaps by 50 percent within half a century, will surely increase the demand for food by some such percentage.

As for the second, the 20,000,000 increase in the 1940's was mainly in age groups under 10 and over 60. Their per capita requirements for food, clothing and other goods are far below the average for the population in age groups 10-60. The mere fact that the younger group grows older will add to the demand in the decade ahead, even if births in the 1950's fall well below those of recent years. This will be important not only for various foods but also for fibers and tobacco.

And finally, the poundage of food eaten per capita does not change rapidly, or differ greatly between rich and poor -- individuals or countries. But the composition of food consumption tends to vary greatly with the real income of the individual, family or nation, and to change markedly as a nation's income and consumption levels rise. Most particularly, the higher the level of consumption and living, the lower tends to be the share of grains and potatoes in the diet and the higher tend to be the proportions of animal products, fruits and many vegetables. High consumption of animal products especially tends to increase the demand for farmers' services.

The products that are likely to be most favorably affected by the prospective enlargement of demand are milk, eggs, poultry, meat, fruits and vegetables. Those likely to be least affected are grain products, potatoes, and dry beans and peas, for which per capita demand for food may continue to decline. Other foods, such as fats and sugars, are likely to be nearer the second group than the first.

We can expect an especially increased demand for whole milk, because of the larger population, because for a time a rising proportion will be in their teens, and because of the trend toward higher per capita consumption by young adults, which may persist as they grow older. Since relatively more milk will be used whole, a smaller fraction than before the war will continue to be used for butter, which will be increasingly supplemented by margarine consumption. There will be a substantial increase in the demand for meat and various other animal products, as the population increase is reinforced by higher per capita income and total consumption.

So far as American agriculture as a whole is concerned, the new outlook therefore points to the need for increased emphasis on long-term expansion of the output of animal products, with probably the biggest premium on expansion of milk and beef production. This is of outstanding importance. Formerly there seemed to be narrow limits to further expansion of our cattle economy, though enlargement of dairy herds at the expense of beef cattle seemed feasible. With the newer agricultural knowledge, there is more scope for expansion of cattle raising. Our demand for these products bids fair to put pressure upon our ability to expand the output. If so, it will put a wholly desirable premium on application of newer agricultural techniques in improving pastures, controlling soil erosion and depletion, and better feeding practices. It will also tend to absorb increasing proportions of our grain production in feed use. Considering our present knowledge, I believe that expanding population will promote essential soil and water conservation rather than intensify depletion.

Whether surpluses of potatoes, eggs, grains, and cotton will prove troublesome or "unmanageable" will depend primarily on our political agricultural programs. If we choose to continue the absurd practice of inducing farmers to raise more potatoes and produce more eggs than can be sold at excessively supported prices, we shall continue to have and waste surpluses at the expense of taxpayers and consumers. If we choose to hold grain prices above levels that will permit liberal feed use, we shall restrict our expansion of animal products and have grain surpluses to waste or give away. If we continue to support cotton prices at excessive levels, we shall further intensify the shift to synthetic fibers, and kill the foreign market for cotton except as we virtually give the stuff away.

In essential respects the setting of our immigration problem is quite different from what it was in 1911, when our immigration policy was last subjected to thoroughgoing review. Important changes were wrought by World War I, the immigration restrictions of the 1920's, the depression of the 1930's, and the population upsurge and still limited net immigration of the 1940's. The foreign-born have come to constitute much smaller proportions of the labor force and the total population than in earlier decades.

The sum of standing national quotas, which are never filled, represents only 0.1 percent of our 1950 population. At its postwar peak in the last fiscal year, net entry of aliens -- quota and non-quota immigrants, including displaced persons, and non-immigrant aliens here on temporary status -- was under 10 percent of our population increase. Our ability to assimilate immigrants is much greater than formerly. No return to the mass immigration of the decade before World War I is to be expected. Principles of discriminating selection will continue to be applied. Yet some changes in quotas, and some easing of quota restrictions and administrative regulations, would be consistent with our national interest. The United States is inherently so strong that we can afford to give more weight to international considerations calling for a more liberal policy toward admission of immigrants.

Let me conclude with a warning and a suggestion. The population outlook has changed but is still in flux. If our population increase has been underestimated, we must now be on guard against overestimating it. The transition from war to peace is not ended, and facts essential to sound projections are still obscure. It is therefore imperative that the demographers should intensify their analyses and that laymen in this field, hitherto content to rely on the specialists, should themselves watch the emerging evidence.

[i] Frank W. Notestein, in T. W. Schultz, ed., "Food for the World." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945, p. 53.

[ii] In what follows I draw heavily upon my recent pamphlet, "The Population Upsurge in the United States." Food Research Institute, Stanford University, 1949.

[iii] P. K. Whelpton, of the Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Problems, Miami University, has led in this valuable work, which rightly commands high respect.

[iv] P. K. Whelpton, "Forecasts of the Population of the United States, 1945-1975." Washington, D. C., 1947, p. 41.

[v] Warren S. Thompson, in Annals, March 1949, p. 262-66.

[vi] A Thompson-Whelpton projection accepted by Alvin H. Hansen, "Economic Progress and Declining Population Growth," American Economic Review, March 1939, p. 1-15.

[vii] Frank W. Notestein, in Schultz, "Food for the World," p. 53, and references there cited.

[viii] "The Labor Force in the United States, 1890-1960," by John D. Durand. New York: Social Science Research Council, 1948, p. 21-22.

[ix] See J. S. Davis, "Standards and Content of Living," American Economic Review, March 1945, p. 1-15.

[x] T. W. Schultz, "Agriculture in an Unstable Economy." New York: McGraw-Hill, 1945, and "Production and Welfare of Agriculture." New York: Macmillan, 1949.

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  • JOSEPH S. DAVIS, Director of the Food Research Institute and Professor of Economic Research, Stanford University; member of the Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, 1940-45, and of the Agricultural Board, 1945-48; author of many studies on agricultural, economic and statistical problems
  • More By Joseph S. Davis