Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Are Changing America's Demographics Relevant to Europe?

(European Politicians, Robin Hood Tax/Flickr)
The Financial Times published yesterday an editorial, Changing America about the changing demographics of America and its consequences for the Republic Party and also for Europe. It said:

"America’s white population is falling. Last year for the first time, the number of deaths of non-Hispanic whites in the US exceeded births. And the majority of births are now non-white.....America's rapidly changing population is a wake-up call both for Republicans, who face oblivion unless they change as a party, and to Europe which must grasp the implications of a US that will no longer be of majority European descent. Europe should take a cue from the US about the benefits of being more open.... 

You can read the full editorial at the FT site, but I really could not follow this editorial apparently written by editors holed up in their Manhattan apartments, London offices or Oxbridge study lounges. I decided to write the following to the editor of The Financial Times:

I read your June 7 editorial, Changing America, about America's falling white population and specifically its consequences for Europe with interest and also some bafflement. As a European who has been a resident of the U.S. for quite a number of years, I'm not clear on what point you are actually trying to make. You state, "America's rapidly changing population is a wake-up call (...) to Europe, which must grasp the implications of a US that will no longer be of majority European descent. Europe should take a cue from the US about the benefits of being more open." It seems you are trying to make two points, without actually making them: first, that with a different U.S. demographic, Europe could expect a different policy? Well, we have seen that under the George W. Bush administration, much waspier you can't have it, there was a huge lack of understanding let alone agreement between U.S. and European politicians.

Your second point seems to be that Europe should learn from and apply some of the U.S. immigration practices. Again, I quote: " Europe's demographic picture resembles that of U.S. whites, whose average age is 42 against 27 for Hispanics. Openness to immigration improves the worker-retiree ratio and the fiscal picture. As the US becomes less European in its character, Europe should move closer to the U.S. model." I don't see a causal link between US' demographic character and Europe's immigration policies.  Moreover, I don't believe that U.S. with all its undoubted strengths and other advantages, is a good role model for Europe. I'm not sure why Europe would want to emulate a country whose healthcare costs are two-and-a half times more than most developed countries;  whose college education costs are by far the highest in the world with outstanding student debt of over $ 1 trillion; with the largest prison population worldwide;  with an income inequality rivaling that of developing nations; with gun violence higher than in European countries; and with a voter turnout at the low end compared to many other nations. 

Without minimizing the importance of  fair and well-crafted immigration policies, I think an equally if not more important approach would be to ensure a global economy where each country can develop its economy and society based on its own strengths, offering its population a means of living and development as well as hope for a positive future.  Case in point, the world, the U.S. and Mexico would be better off, if Mexico had a viable economy for all its citizens, rather than being a distribution center of illegal (or even legal) immigrants to the U.S.


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