A recent news article by Sabrina Tavernise in The New York Times warned U.S. population growth has slowed so much that the Wuhan virus might tip the country into population decline this year. It is the latest in a string of articles, editorials, and columns recently that mislead the public about the nation’s demographic future.
Like other writers, Tavernise anchors her warnings by pointing out that the rate of U.S. population growth has slowed significantly in the last few years. That is certainly true. But Tavernise goes beyond the data, or even the experts she quotes, and adopts an ominous tone about the nation’s slowing rate of population growth and its implications.
Tavernise states at the outset that “a drop in births and an acceleration in deaths put the country closer than ever to an overall decline.” She then cites unnamed experts, stating that if the “more dire predictions” come true about the Wuhan virus, “the country could face its first yearly drop in population, particularly if immigration continues to fall.”
Is the country’s pace of population growth such that the coronavirus may cause the population to decline? Almost certainly not. . . .