Apparently, the U.S. is shrinking.

Well, not really. But excluding migration, if recent patterns of birth and death were to hold constant over the long term, population trends in the U.S. would be on the decline.

What’s more, this isn’t a recent trend. In fact, it’s been true for much of the past 2 decades: intrinsic population growth rates were strongly negative in 1980, slightly negative in 1990, and moderately negative in both 2000 and 2001. Numbers aren’t available for the Northwest, but fertility rates in the US Northwest are slightly below the national average, and BC rates are lower still. (See our population indicator for more details.)

This is a pattern that’s being seen throughout the industrialized world. The U.S. is unique only in that population declines are less pronounced here than in other industrialized democracies.

What’s really remarkable, though, is that in the U.S. Northwest nearly one in 10 births was not wanted at all at the time of conception, and three in 10 were mistimed (i.e., wanted, but wanted later). In other words, the population growth rate northwesterners want is even lower than the rate we actually have.