Our Population Has Shrunk Since the Election

Fewer Americans will be alive to see Joe Biden Inaugurated than were living on Election Day. This has probably never happened before.

Here’s the math.

Across 2019, the US averaged about 8000 deaths per day.

In 2019, we averaged about 10,000 births per day. That is, by the way, the lowest figure in decades, part of a long-term, accelerating decline. By the end of 2020 it was estimated that the daily rate of new births might have declined to as few as 8800 a day. for now, though, let’s just stick with the 10,000 figure.

A normal delta between deaths per day and births per day in the US, based on 2019 data, is roughly +2000/day, producing a “rate of natural increase” for a country of 328m people of .3%, give or take a kid or two.

As our growth rate from fertility alone has ground almost to zero, nearly all of our population growth now comes from immigration. Almost all immigration was halted by the Trump Administration in April, shutting down that pipeline of growth.

At normal birth rates, absent immigration, our population growth rate should remain positive so long as we don’t sustain more than 2000 excess deaths per day.

Between Nov 8th 2020 and January 12, 2021, the US averaged just under 2200 COVID-19 deaths per day. Putting us well into negative territory. Yesterday we lost more than 4100 Americans to COVID-19. The 7-day moving average for daily deaths is at 3400 and still rising steeply.

Take a normal rate of growth from births/deaths of 2000/day, factor in 2200 additional deaths per day from COVID-19, and you have a declining population.

But wait, lockdowns and social distancing should have reduced overall deaths from other causes like accidents. Thing is, that didn’t happen and we still don’t know why.

As of October, only 2/3 of America’s excess deaths (deaths above the average rate) were officially attributed to COVID-19. In other words, excess deaths were running another 30+% above the rate of COVID deaths. Normally expected deaths (about 8000/day) plus COVID deaths, left another 740 deaths per day from other causes above the COVID death rate. Instead of a normal-year base rate of 8000 deaths per day, you have to add the COVID deaths to an enhanced US base rate has been running about 8700 per day.

Leading causes of death like cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses wouldn’t decline just because of a lockdown. Some speculate they may actually have risen. While violent crime dropped significantly, homicides were up sharply. However, homicide is not a major contributor to annual death rates and the rate of increase would not move the needle on overall deaths.

Traffic deaths in the US actually spiked in 2020 by more than 12%, a complete departure from the experience elsewhere in the world where driving deaths were down sharply. Though again, this is not a large number overall. We don’t know why death rates have ranged so high, though the simplest and most likely explanation is just that we experienced a lot more COVID-19 deaths than we officially recorded.

By any reasonable estimate we will be a smaller country on Inauguration Day 2021 than we were on Election Day 2020. The Congressional Budget Office released a report predicting that our failed COVID response is likely to cost the US an additional 3% decline in our projected 2050 population over last year’s prediction.

Congratulations on becoming Great Again.

Bonus: Interactive map of US population growth down to the zip code 2010-2019.

32 Comments

  1. I was actually expecting him to pardon the Capitol Hill seditionists and his entire family network, but for once my expectations were wrong in a good direction.

    I’m trying to be more worldly and sober than the usual “breathe easier” statement, but quite literally after Biden pledged his oath my breathing relaxed a little bit.

    1. I have no idea why the tyrant did not pardon his family and himself. I read all the comments from pundits that his legal advisors said it was a bad idea, but the tyrant has never been one to listen to advice, at least good advice.

      So today, is the end of the beginning. I was wrong about the competence of the tyrant’s organization in fixing the election. I was not wrong about their intent. And nothing has changed out in maga terrorist land, since yesterday, or Jan 6th. “Patriot TV”, a subscription based feed, is coming. The tyrant is not going anywhere, unless the AG actually has some guts, which I don’t think he does. The attacks on various buildings and their occupants are coming.

      What is needed is some very undemocratic tactics and acts, in order to save, even restore, democracy in the U.S.

      1. Yeah. I have one of those Nice White Men I’m Not a Racist I Just Think Progressives Are Being a Little Harsh friends who played the whole “Obama had far more pardons than Trump, so why are people freaking out?” game. I don’t respond to that stuff in real life but the difference is that Obama pardoned tons of regular everyday people for the evil of smoking a plant, whereas Trump focused on rich white people who defrauded regular everyday people. AND, many of his pardons went to the types of criminals that took years for the US to finally properly start treating as criminals, which basically means most of these guys now know to just wait until the next Republican president comes along, no need to worry about getting caught.

  2. If you had posted this article a year ago, I would have been fascinated by the implications and considerate of the overall social and political policies we could discuss adopting if we wanted to get population growth growing again, and for what purpose.

    After a year of Americans violently suppressing pandemic countermeasures and then turning the Cold Civil War hot, my immediate and unbounded thought was, “Well I hope the housing market isn’t artificially inflated as an economic countermeasure, because then I can buy a house.”

    I owe this callousness directly to the population that is so obsessed with being right that they’d literally rather die than admit they’re wrong. Who am I to try to get in the way of their mass suicide?

    1. When I read an article about somebody dying of Covid using their last breath to deny that they have Covid, I feel no sympathy, no pity for them. I feel anger and disgust at their willful ignorance that increases the danger for the rest of us.

      Now there are 4 cases of Covid in Democratic House members linked to being in lockdown with assholes who wouldn’t wear a mask. I hope they have access to all the same advanced treatments Trump got.

  3. Just as a comparison to the US numbers

    Here (NZ) we appear to have had about 2200 FEWER deaths last winter (Flu season)
    So the precautions led to 25 Covid deaths and 2200 less deaths from the usual winter conditions

    You guys have 64 times as many people so that would have been 140,000 less deaths

  4. While I don’t disagree with your overall conclusion that our population has declined, I’m not sure we have enough data to make any more specific conclusions. We’re still in the middle of this pandemic, with very bad data gathering efforts (and some places like Florida actively suppressing accurate covid death counts).

    Undeniably our daily average death rate has increased. That said, trauma (both unintentional e.g. car accidents, and intentional e.g. primarily suicides, with a much smaller number of homicides), is our third leading cause of death:
    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
    (albeit a distant third after heart disease and cancer) so the changes in trauma death rates does affect our overall death rate.

    It’ll be very difficult to tease out how much each part contributed to our overall death rate, and how much covid vs say the quarantine itself will have affected things. For example, cancer deaths have probably gone up due to delay in early diagnosis and prompt treatment (a few weeks is usually not a big deal, but people not able to get vital surgery for months due to hospitals overflowing with covid patients starts to affect mortality rates). However, heart attacks have probably declined — temporarily — because people are more sedentary due to the quarantine, so people have been stressing their hearts less (of course long-term we’ll see a rise since people aren’t as physically active).

    I think trauma deaths have probably declined, it’s just that we’re underestimating covid deaths so much (oftentimes due to intense pressure by politicians to lower death counts), that our “excess death” rate ends up high from all the hidden covid deaths.

    The biggest, and perhaps saddest, question, will be how much our suicide rate, drug overdose rate, starvation rate, and other deaths of despair and poverty, will have increased. Given the worst economic convulsions since the Great Depression, I’m bracing for the worst. But hey, the stock market is hitting new highs, so, MAGA?

  5. Shrug…..Imagine what happens when a real pandemic hits, and yes, one will. Imagine if Ebola mutated into an aerosol variant. Imagine what happens if 5%, or 10%, of the population dies. Then try to fathom the economic and sociological issues.

    The entire capitalist model is based on ever-increasing consumption, and deficit financing is based on an ever-increasing tax base. Unfortunately, the biosphere does not play along with those premises.

    Mr. Smith was correct in The Matrix. Humanity is a virus, that consumes all it can in an area, then moves on. But guess what, humanity has no where left to expand to. The biosphere, as we know it, cannot be stressed anymore. It is dying. Fish stocks are collapsing. Water is now being traded on exchanges. There was an article a couple days ago on how the biosphere is losing 1% to 2% of all the insects on the planet, per year. This won’t end well.

    But humanity will not change, until it is too late. Even then, it won’t. I read articles about South Dakotan’s refusing to believe that Covid was real, even as they died, an hour later, from it. Don’t even begin to think that humanity will ever get serious about Global Warming. The short-term costs are too much, and humanity does not do long-term, even mid-term, planning.

    1. Biology lesson time here. A virus making a really radical change in mode of transmission (like blood borne to air borne) is not a matter of just a few mutations. There was a lot of worry about HIV becoming mosquito borne, for example, but that has not happened, despite how widespread HIV got. Also a bug with too high a fatality rate isn’t going to start a pandemic; there is a balancing act, a “Goldilocks Zone” here. Too many hosts killed too quickly cannot spread the germ as well as a less virulent bug. There tends to be selection for less deadly bugs over time (although not before the ones unlucky to catch it early die). The ideal pandemic bug is like Covid or the 1918 Flu- just deadly enough and just contagious enough. I’d be more concerned with Covid mutations in more likely parameters, like the new variant that is more infectious. This is the time to really hunker down. If you can work from home and/or get your essentials curbside, you should do it. Avoid all unnecessary contact outside your households.

      Humans have pushed against nature, and this virus is nature pushing back. We won’t literally destroy the planet, or even all life, but we certainly can cause a 6th mass extinction, which may well include us. The jury is still out on the long term adaptive advantage of our particular form of intelligence.

    2. Dins, if anything these last few months have taught us much on how to weather storms. I don’t get why your always so relentlessly dour. I never get the the point of the whole doomer vibe, does it help?

      I’m reminded of a scene from the Battlestar Gallactica remake, one of the crew is sitting with a priest as a form of therapy for the nightmares he’s been having and the they have conversation but the most salient point is this exchange

      Priest “the real question s why do you secretly want to kill yourself?”

      Crewman: “I don’t secretly want to kill myself.”

      Priest: “Ok, your right, you don’t secretly want to kill yourself, you OBVIOUSLY want to kill yourself. The real question is, why?”

      I’m sure I’m not the first person to say it but dude get some therapy and help, because the whole, people are the real disease, everyone will die cold hungry and alone, nothing will ever get any better so why bother trying vibe just aint it, man.

      if you want some pretty basic something to help, at least to pick me up try Brave Faces Everyone by Spanish Love Songs, really good music to help when you’re down.

      1. I too have watched a fair bit of SciFi.

        How about this one: “maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events”, from a sequel that was actually quite awesome. If you look at the curve of history, and examine human nature, we are ultimately a force of destruction. We are a virus. If the planet came along and came at us with a REAL killer virus, as opposed to this one, I would simply shrug, and say “we deserve it”.

        To put this current “pandemic” in perspective, it has officially killed a little over 2 million worldwide. Unofficially, it is probably twice that, maybe more. So what?

        Smoking kills 8 million every year. World hunger kills 3-5 million CHILDREN every year. If we banned smoking worldwide, and threw a tiny tiny fraction of the cash we have thrown at Covid at world hunger, we could end both of these scourges in a month.

        But we won’t.

  6. It looks like McConnell is taking another political gamble. He’s open to convicting Trump, but he’s insuring that the Senate trial takes place after Biden is sworn in. This is a chance to shiv both Trump (he got his tax cuts and judges, so time to cut bait now that there are negative repercussions), and Biden (distract from his truly Herculean task of cleaning up Trump’s mess). The base will howl, but American memories and attention spans are short.

    But I wonder if the delay might trip him up for this reason. Every day we keep hearing more things about this insurrection, and the worse and more indefensible it gets. We hear how close the terrorists got to kidnapping or killing members of Congress. We hear of delays in deploying the National Guard. We hear of a failure to adequately prepare for violence. We hear that some DC police may have aided the terrorists. We hear that off duty police were part of the mob. And now there are accusations that some members of Congress may have gone beyond egging the rabble on with their words. Too many ugly revelations at a delayed trial could blow up in Mitch’s face.

    1. The optics of this tragic capitol assault are indelibly printed in people’s minds. As investigators uncover more complicit involvement by T and others in his orbit, the political consequences are going to be horrific. I am grateful that the investigation will be conducted under democratic control with transparency.
      This time, subpoenas will be enforced and reports will become public.

      1. We need certain ex Cabinet members testifying under oath. Barr is #1 on the list, then whoever the acting SecDef was – I want to know who finally authorized the NG to come in and why it took so long. I want that arch-liar Kellyanne Conway to have to admit that Trumpy was more interested in watching the sedition on TV as opposed to acting to stop it.

        Fortunately all Mitch can do here is play act being shocked at such perfidy.

  7. Inevitably nations who have population decline , decline in power and wealth. We need to undo Trump’s discouraging of immigration. If you were looking for a place to immigrate right now the US for most immigrates is no longer top of their list. We have proven to be a hostile environment for them.

    Japan’s decline in population is why it’s economy is in decline. The US and Europe have staved off decline by immigration. Japan does not allow immigration. A lesson right before our eyes.

    We need to up social services to make it easier for women to have children and care for them. All of society benefits from kids being born and raised to productive adulthood. All wealth ultimately depends on our birthrate and child survival rate. We all need to participate in helping to raise them. Having raised two children and helped raised my grandchildren I can tell you how expensive that is. If I had gone childless my net worth would be two to three time greater now. Not that I regret my decision. Those who raise no kids are riding on my wagon I am pulling. They need to also help pull this important wagon. Frankly they are freeloaders. This fact is one of the reasons I turned against the Republican Party. They are labeling the wrong people freeloaders for the profit of the elite.

    We need to recognize women are more than a walking womb and make it easy for them to hop into and out of the workforce. Subsidize good childcare would go a long ways to getting that done. Women are the gatekeepers of children being born. We need to encourage them to have children. Not discourage it.

    The so called population bomb idea of the sixties frankly was dead wrong. The biggest problem in the 21th century is not going to be too many people but to few. That myth needs to be debunked.

    As I have aged, read more , experience more and gain more education I have had to change my paradigm many times. It is called emotional and intellectual growth. Even old guys like me can still do it.

    1. My impression is that many conservatives are operating on a very outdated model of family economics, back when children were a net asset because they provided labor for the farm or the shop. Now children are a drain on your finances. Raising the next generation of citizens is a vital service to the state, therefore let such work be compensated in keeping with the value it provides.

    2. If the concern is not the specific power and wealth of the US then one could argue that population growth is not a goal at all, just one that supports our current model of capitalism and distribution of wealth and power? If one is concerned about climate change, and mass extinction, and ultimately mass suffering by all living creatures then there is still a strong argument for less humanity in general.

      The sixties population bomb was wrong in its projection of actual population growth, and perhaps the idea of running out of certain resources; however, even revised forecasts have population peaking at ~9-10B, which really IS an explosion from the 3-4B actual population of the 1960s.

      I think the essence of the concern was that the quality of life on the planet would be greatly impacted by so many humans (without addressing any racist implications of the of who those people were).

      So all in all… hmm I’m kind of hoping there are less humans on the planet, even if that includes myself or my descendants.

    3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/263578/gross-domestic-product-gdp-of-japan/

      Does NOT look like a decline to me!!

      Population growth does NOT “help” the economy – you get more wealth spread among more people – ZERO actual growth

      ACTUAL growth is from the engineers slowly making things better – not just engineers most people leave the world better than they found it

      And the age distribution is also not a problem
      More pensioners per worker
      Less children per worker
      The overall costs are about the same

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