America�s population reached 300 million mark!

A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Published on February 13, 2007

The newscasters in America had a reason for celebration.  On October 16, 2006 I heard in the news program �All Things Considered� in the afternoon in a National Public Radio affiliate station in New Orleans that America's population would reach 300 million mark by tomorrow morning.  Now, do not take these words for sure.  A demographer who was talking to the newscaster said that this was a theoretical projection.  For that matter, America's population may have already reached 300 million by now or it may reach that level within months but experts who make a living by forecasting how many people live in this country have said that by October 17, 2006 America's population would surpass the magic number, i.e., 300 million.  

When I first came to America in 1969 to attend a university for my graduate degree in 1969 America's population had reached 200 million only two years ago in 1967.  Therefore, it took about 39 years to add 100 million people to America's population.  With the addition of 100 million people the demography is also changing very rapidly.  The number of white (Caucasian of European descent) used to be the majority in 1967 and it still is but now the Hispanic (Spanish speaking people from Mexico, Central America, and South America) population is on the rise.  They are the runners-up and at the rate their number is growing, they may surpass the white population within the next 100 years.  The population expert in America after examining the new figure say that the white population will become minority in the distant future as compared to other ethnicities.  Thus, one may humorously say that the �browning of America� has started in earnest. 

I learned many a statistic on America's population growth from the NPR report.  Do you know that one child is born every 15 seconds while one person dies every 30 seconds?  This translates as follows: every 30 seconds America add one person to their population.  Therefore, about 2,880 people are added to the number per day.  This also means about 1million and fifty one thousand people are to the population every year.  The real number must be higher than this because every year America allows new immigrants to come to this country and on top of it no one really knows for sure how many illegal aliens are crossing the border mainly from the south of the border.  One estimate that we hear often is that about 20 million illegal aliens are there in the U.S.   

I also learned from today's NPR news program that in the year 1915 America's population reached the 100 million mark.  It took 52 years for the population to become double in 1967. Now it took about 39 years to add another 100 million.  The population growth rate is not even among various ethnic groups in America.  For example the population growth rate is lowest among white Caucasian but compare this with the Hispanic population whose number is just exploding.  The Hispanics in America are new immigrants and many of them are illegal too.  They are Roman Catholic by faith who mostly listen to the dictum of Catholic Church that does not favor any kind of birth control measure.  

America is also called the nation of immigrants or melting pot.  The first wave of immigrants came from England to the shore of Plymouth Rock in 1620.  Later, immigrants came by shipload from northern Europe.  Slaves from western Africa were also brought on to speed up farming tobacco, cotton, and other cash crop.  In early 1900 immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe.  Many Chinese immigrants came to the west coast many of them were brought here to construct the trans-American railway.  It was in the late 1950s that America saw the first wave of Asian immigrants mostly from the Philippines and Korea.  Immigrants from South Asia, Iran, and Arab nations started poring into America in the early 1970s.  When I first came to America I did not see many immigrants from Bangladesh; however, that would change soon.  Bangalees were coming by droves beginning from mid 1980s.  Immigrants from South Asia hardly constitute low single digit number in terms of percentage.  But their number is growing by leaps and bounds. 

In about 100 years America�s population will climb to 600 million and the white (European Caucasian) people will be minority, undoubtedly.  The global migration is very popular among Asian people where population is literally bursting at the seam.

It is very interesting to probe into America�s population growth starting from 1620.  In about 400 years the population rose from few hundred to about 300 million.  Of course tens and thousands of Native Americans (Red Indians) used to crisscross America but they were decimated by the invading Europeans.  Unfortunately, their number has dwindled and many now live in reservations mostly in the western states or they live in remote places.  As of late, a section of American Indians has gotten wealth because of some quirky law by virtue of which they could operate lucrative gambling operation.  However, that is a different story to be dealt in its entirety in future. 

In summary, the talking heads of radio industry are hyping about the fact that America�s population may have reached 300 million mark.  The population growth rate of this country is put at 1%.  Contrast this low number with that from Pakistan where the rate is anywhere from 1.75 to 2%.  Bangladesh is doing a tad better.  Thanks to NGOs working in the area of family planning.  Ideally one would like to see the entire world subscribe to the idea of �Zero Population Growth,� which could stabilize the population of our globe, which is about 6.25 to 6.5 billion.  Chairman Mao Tse-tung of China had instituted one-child per family to achieve a negative population growth.   

For America, however, it is a different story.  As long as the soil could produce enough cereals, legumes, cotton, etc., the population would surely grow.  America as a nation does not have to worry about feeding its teeming millions.  I, however, greatly worry about the unchecked population growth of the least developing nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America because that is where the population growth is out of control.  America on the other hand with her abundant tillable land should not have to worry to feed her population for another hundred years.  That is why no demographer worth his salt here talks seriously about �zero population growth.�  To achieve that, a child should be born every 30 seconds because as per the mortality statistics, a person dies here every 30 seconds.  But with agricultural land aplenty, why should America follow Uncle Mao�s coercive policy?

About the author: Dr. Jaffor Ullah, after spending 10 months at the campus of Cornell University, has now returned to his Katrina ravaged home in Louisiana.  He took time out from rebuilding his house to write this interesting article on changing demographics in America."