One of the reasons that Trump and his followers have been anti-immigrant is that, they say, America is already pretty well filled up. There’s no vacancy here. We have too many people for too few jobs, and, ergo, “immigrants take jobs away from Americans.”
The kicker is that that isn’t true. Oh, yes, we may or may not have unemployment, particularly in certain depressed areas of the country. But the reality is that we are now a post-industrial economy, and one of the characteristics of post-industrial societies is that they are strikingly infertile. Simply put, dual income couples don’t have children. Or not many of them. The result is that modern, developed nations need immigrants to fill the vacancies. Those post-industrial nations that don’t have a tradition of immigration on a large scale have a serious problem on their hands. Several nations in Europe already are already looking a labor shortages in the very near future.
But the real horror story is that of Japan, which (as a potent symbol) now consumes more diapers for old people than for babies.
Catherine Rampell examines Japan’s uniquely chilling situation in a recent article, The demographic time bomb that could hit America. She looks at how Japan got itself into its current situation (a combination of overworking its population and maintaining a strongly anti-immigrant legal system) and what it is doing now to try to address the “time bomb.” Among other things, it is experimenting with more child care options and, slowly!, exploring more immigration.
Will it work? Well, maybe yes. Maybe no.
But one thing that’s obvious is that we, here in the USA, are only a generation or two away from facing the same sort of problems. And if we lock the doors against immigrants…
We are going to be in a world of hurt.