Immigration resurged in the US in the 1950’s. Two events combined to cause the peak in fertility in the US in 1957. One was that those aged 17 to 27 had been born in the 1930’s when immigration was the lowest in any decade. Immigration had already returned by the 1950’s. See the bar chart below of immigration by decade:
Fertility peaked in 1957:
But it also peaks for women about age 25, although this varies by birth cohort. The Heuser graphs show that in 1957, women aged 17 to 30 accounted for a large part of those having children. These women were born when immigration was extremely low in fact, not just in law, from the late 1920’s to 1940.
Immigration by decade picked up more from the 1940’s to the 1950’s than from the 1950’s to the 1960’s. The rate of immigration was accelerating before the 1965 Immigration Act. This immigration caused the rise in fertility to stop.
The rise in fertility starting in 1940 was by young adults who had lived in a land without immigration. Those born in 1920 have little memory before even 1930. Their memories are of a land without any immigration. The 1930’s were a decade of 500,000 immigrants v. 4 million in the 1920’s, 1 million in the 1940’s, 2.5 million in the 1950’s and 3.2 million in the 1960’s.
Young people who grew up in the 1930’s and 1940’s formed expectations of economic and other security based on very low immigration. They expected job security for themselves and their kids without any limit. They had no forward expectation of any force capable of stopping their prosperity.
However, by 1957, re-surging immigration changed those expectations. That is what cut off the peak in fertility. Already, the actual immigrants on the ground in the 1950’s were enough to take away jobs and more importantly job security from young adults. Young adults need a 25 year window of job security to have a family. That was being taken away by the late 1950’s by actual numbers of immigrants in the 1950’s. Thus fertility peaked as the young people who remembered no immigration when growing up in the 1930’s were being replaced by those who were experiencing already 1950’s immigration that was taking away their job security.
Kennedy and John McCain were born in the 1930’s and were part of the tail end of the generation that didn’t know immigration and had security. Kennedy further took that away from the young people in the 1960’s. By the end of the 1970’s, fertility had crashed to 1.48 by one graph:
Immigration in the 1970’s was 4.49 million. In 1979, a young person aged 25 had been born in 1954, and had only known a period of rising immigration. Their expectations and experiences in the job market were of a constant tide against them of immigrants competing for and taking away summers jobs, education opportunities, and starter jobs.
They were finding it harder to finance education from summer jobs, and were experiencing that without college they didn’t get good jobs out of school with job security. Everything had changed. They were facing life swimming up stream, from trying to get starter jobs in high school onwards.
Median wages went flat in 1973 for men and the progress in wages of women towards men, or blacks towards whites stopped. Every group experienced this headwind against them in life and responded with the great job in fertility from 3.77 in 1957 to 1.48 in 1979. That drop, the greatest in US history in so short a time, reflected worse conditions and worse future prospects for young people than the Great Depression had.
Fertility in 1979 was lower than in the Great Depression. Bottom fertility in the Great Depression was 2.19 in 1936. Fertility was supported in the Great Depression by the only 500,000 immigrants in the 1930’s.
What caused the low in 1979? Immigration resurgent since the 1950’s. The young people of 1957 knew mostly no immigration but enough to stop the rise. The young people of 1979 knew only heavy immigration and they were suffering from it.
Fertility dropped below 2.05, below the the Great Depression minimum in 1972. At that point, the resurgence in immigration had been going on for over 15 years. So people aged 25 had known rising immigration through the 1960’s and into the 1970’s.
In 1979, those aged 20 to 30 had known only rising immigration. Their expectations and their experience was of a terrible headwind. They also had experienced the end of loyalty by the elites and institutions of society to Median America. By1979, men’s median wages had been flat 6 years since 1973.
The turning points of fertility all match up to immigration history. Fertility turned up in 1936 and thus established the bottom as young people were experiencing the economy with 50,000 immigrants per year in the 1930’s. Thus 50,000 immigrants per year in 1936, as in every year of the 1930’s was better for young people than the 1970’s with over 400,000 immigrants per year.
Immigration peaked in 1957 as immigration resurged and was already 250,000 per year or so. That level was enough to stop the peak in fertility. As immigration increased, fertility in the 1970’s was below every year in the Great Depression. After 1972, every year in the 1970’s had lower fertility than every year in the Great Depression. This was the impact of immigration.
Search: 1965 immigration act fertility
The two graphs on immigration and fertility answer the question how many immigrants per year. The answer is 50,000 or less. That is the number in the 1930’s. The reasons are
- Even in the Great Depression 50,000 per year was low enough that fertility was above 2.19 per year and thus above replacement.
- The young people with no memory of immigration were the young people who had confidence in the 1940’s and 1950’s during the baby boom. These were the years of unlimited opportunity for young people. The culture reflected that. Boredom was the greatest threat to the young, not a life long struggle for subsistence against immigration and discrimination. Instead, discrimination was ending in the 1940’s and 1950’s because of the same feeling of confidence that led to the baby boom, confidence in the present and future for 25 years by the young.
- The peak in 1957 was stopped by 250,000 per year immigration even to young people who had known the 50,000 per year in the 1930’s.
The 50,000 per year of the 1950’s led to above replacement fertility despite the Great Depression. The 250,000 per year of the 1950’s was enough to stop the rise in fertility and end the baby boom. Thus that much is too high. Since the 50,000 per year in the 1930’s only had slightly above replacement fertility, we should aim at 50,000 per year as an upper bound. Fertility then was higher than now. So we should return to the 1930’s level of immigration or lower, that means under 50,000 per year.
Future generations, with another 4 to 5 generations, a full life span, so 80 to 100 years can then see what the effects are. They can only be good. They can make the decision if 50,000 is too low. If fertility prosperity has returned by then, its unlikely they will choose to end it by Kennedy style immigration.
==Why 1960 Pill Doesn’t Explain Fertility Drop.
The Pill: 30 Years of Safety Concerns
by Sharon Snider
When the birth control pill was introduced in 1960, it was a major medical achievement that rewrote the future of women and family life. For the first time in history, it became possible for a woman to safely and effectively control childbearing by taking a pill.
This year “the pill,” as it is commonly referred to, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Since its introduction, it has been used by more than 60
million women worldwide. It has proved to be, in the opinion of many, the most socially significant medical advance of the century.
American women were quick to accept the pill. Within two years, approximately 1.2 million women were using it, within five years, 5 million,
and by 1973, about 10 million. In the early ’80s, following reports of possible harmful side effects, use of the pill dropped to 8.4 million. Today, however, with safer, low-dose versions on the market, use is back up. Approximately 10.7 million American women now use the pill. It is the most
Fertility fell from 3.77 in 1957 to about 1.5 in 1979. This was the pill? Problem is that fertility had a local minimum of a little over 2 in the 1930’s. So women controlled their fertility in the 1930’s without the pill. See graph fertility:
The low fertility in the 1930’s can’t be explained by the pill being invented in 1960. The rise in fertility from the 1930’s to 1957 can’t be explained by the pill in 1960. WWII doesn’t explain fertility rising from 1945 to 1957. It could explain a bump for a couple years after 1945, but not a peak 12 years later.
When we look at all the turning points of fertility, and its fall since 1820, its immigration that is the answer.