As a long term observer of America's demographic picture, I was shocked to hear of a recent report from the US Census Bureau.
The US population grew by a scant 0.72% in 2012, the lowest since 1942.
You can't start or expand a family when an essential partner in the process is off fighting WWII, and there were 17 million of them. This is far below the 2.09% replacement rate that the country was holding on to only a few years ago.
At the end of 2012, there were 316,128,839 Americans. This accounts for 4.4% of the global population of 7,137,577,750, which was up 1.1%. If the growth rate remained the same, there are more than 317 million of us by now.
This places American population growth at the bottom of the international sweepstakes, down with Italy (0.32%), Germany (0.11%), and Poland (0.02%).
According to the World Bank, 22 countries suffered population declines, like Portugal (-0.29%) and Japan (-0.20%). The tiny Sultanate of Oman, one of my old stomping grounds as a military pilot, enjoys the planet's highest growth rate at 9.13%.
The obvious cause here was the weakness of the US economy. There is a high correlation between economic health and fertility a year later.
So we can only hope that the modest improvement in the economy this year will send more to the maternity ward.
If it doesn't, it could be great news for your investment portfolio. Fewer births today translate into a shortage of workers in 20 years. That brings rising wages, flying inflation, rapid price hikes, and a housing boom.
Corporate profits go through the roof, as does the stock market. It also produces fewer relying on government services in 40 years, which makes it easier for the government to balance the budget.
This Goldilocks scenario is already scheduled for the coming decade of the 2020s, when a 15-year demographic headwind flips to a tailwind, thanks to the coming demise of the "baby boomer" generation, now a big cost to the economy.
The new data suggests that the next "roaring twenties" could extend into the 2030's and beyond.
California was the most populous state, with over 38 million, followed by Texas and New York. Two states saw population declines, Maine and West Virginia, where the collapse of the coal industry is sucking the life out of local businesses.
Parsing through the report, it is clear that prediction of population trends is becoming vastly more complicated, thanks to the increasingly minestrone-like makeup of the US people.
By 2040 no single group will be a majority. That is already the case in San Francisco, and will be true for the entire State of California by 2020.
America will come to resemble other, much smaller multiethnic societies, like Singapore, South Africa, England, Israel, and Switzerland. This explains much about the current state of politics in the US.
Texas saw the greatest increase in population, with a jump of 387,397, to 26,020,000, as people flock in to take advantage of the big increase in local government hiring there.
Some 80% of new Texans were Hispanic and Black, confirming my belief that the Lone Star State will become the next battleground in presidential elections.
This is why gerrymandering (redistricting) is such a big deal there, with the white establishment battling to hang on to power at any cost.
Further complicating any serious analysis is the rapid decline of the traditional American nuclear family where married parents live with their children.
With a vast concentration of wealth at the top, and a long-term decline of middle class standards of living, this is increasingly becoming a luxury reserved for a prosperous elite.
As a result, the country's birthrate has declined by half since 1960.
Those who do procreate are having fewer kids, the average family size dropping from three to two. In 1964, the final year of the baby boom, 36% of Americans were under the age of 18.
Today, that figure is just 23.5%, and is expected to fall to 21% by 2050. Only 80% of women have children now, compared to 90% in the 1970s.
One possible explanation is that the cost of child rearing has soared to $241,080 per child now. Rocketing college costs are another barrier, with 70% of high school grads at least starting some higher education.
I was a bargain as a kid, costing my parents only a tenth of that. I went to Boy Scouts and Little League baseball, each of which cost $1 a month. A full scholarship covered by college expenses.
When I look at the checks I have written for my own children for ski lessons, soccer, youth sailing, braces, international travel and assorted masters degrees, I recoil in horror.
Fewer women are following that old adage of "marriage before carriage." Some 41% of children are born out of wedlock, up 400% in 40 years.
It is definitely an education and class driven divide. Only 10% of college-educated mothers are still single, compared to 57% for those with a high school education or less.
It is a truism in the science of demographics that educated women have fewer children. It makes possible careers that enable them to bring home paychecks instead of babies.
Blame Roe versus Wade, the Equal Rights Act, and Title Nine, but every social reform benefiting women of the past half century has helped send the birthrate plummeting.
More women wearing the pants in the family hurts the fertility rate as well, as they are unable, or unwilling, to bear the large families of yore. The share of families where women are the primary breadwinners has leapt from 11% to 40% since 1960.
When couples do marry, they are sometimes of the same sex, now that gay marriage is legal in 16 states, further muddying traditional data sources. Some 2 million children are now being raised by gay parents. In fact, there is a gay baby boom underway, which those in the community call the "gayby" boom."
All female couples have produced one million children over the last 30 years, 95% of whom select blond haired, blue eyed, Aryan sperm donors who are over six feet tall ($40 a shot for donors if you guys are interested and live walking distance from UC Berkeley. I'm told that water polo players are particularly favored).
The numbers are so large that it is impacting the makeup of the US population.
There was a time when I could usually identify the people standing next to me on San Francisco BART trains. That time has long passed. Now I don't have a clue.
Whenever we go to war, we become our enemy to a modest degree, both as a people and a culture.
After WWII, 50,000 German and 50,000 Japanese wives were brought home as war brides. Sushi, hot tubs and Volkswagens quickly followed.
The problem is that the US has invaded another 20 countries since 1945, and is now maintaining a military presence in 140. That generates a hell of a lot of green cards.
This has spawned sizable Korean, and later, Iranian communities in Los Angeles, a Vietnamese one in Louisiana, a Somali enclave in Minneapolis, and a large minority of Afghans in San Jose.
The fall of the Soviet Union in 1992 unleashed another dozen Eastern European ethnic groups and languages on the US. Have you noticed the proliferation of Arab fast food restaurants in your neighborhood since we sent 20 divisions to the Middle East?
What all this means is that the grand experiment called the United States is entering a new phase.
Different ethnic, racial, religious, and even political groups are blending with each other to create a population unseen in the history of the world, with untold economic consequences. It is also setting up an example for other countries to follow.
Get your investment portfolio out in front of it, and you could prosper mightily.
Ignore Demographics at Your Portfolio's Peril
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.