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Tyler Cowen

Falling Fertility Rates Will Turn the Immigration Debate Upside Down

As the world’s population ages and fertility rates decline, governments will fight to let migrants in, not keep them out. 

There may not always be barbed wire.

There may not always be barbed wire.

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images North America

The continued decline of global fertility rates, especially in wealthier countries, requires a re-evaluation of global immigration policy. As the funding of public pensions becomes a more pressing issue, might governments work harder to bring migrants in, rather than keeping them out?

Some countries can be expected to keep their relatively restrictionist immigration policies. But in these countries, the population will become smaller and smaller while taxes on the young will get higher and higher, in part to pay for the retirements and health care of the elderly. The high taxes will in turn lower living standards, and that may depress fertility further yet.