American society is deteriorating

USA - history, economy, society

Jörg Nagler

Prof. Dr. Jörg Nagler was a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., director of the Kennedy House in Kiel and has been teaching North American history at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena since 1999. His work focuses on the social and political history of the USA in the 19th and 20th centuries, war and society in the USA, history of immigration, German-American cultural transfer and African-American history.

As a country of immigration, the USA is characterized by a multitude of cultural influences and a multi-ethnic, segmented society. Religion plays an important role in the everyday life of the US population, the US is considered the most religious country of the western industrialized countries.

The ethnic makeup of the US population is very diverse. Canteen at Wicklow Elementary School in Sanford, Florida (& copy picture alliance / landov / George Skene)

Population development

Immigration to the USA (& copy Bergmoser + Höller Verlag AG, figure 853 513; source: Office of Immigration Statistics)
At the end of 2013 there were around 317 million people in the 50 individual states of the USA. The population has more than doubled since 1941 and, according to demographic calculations, will amount to almost 440 million in 2050.
In 2010 about 37 million Americans were born abroad, which corresponds to approximately 13 percent of the total population. Since the census survey of 1990, the proportion of immigrants in the total population has risen by more than 50 percent. Over 40 percent of all foreign-born US citizens have immigrated to the United States since 1990. Within this group, over 41 percent come from Latin America and about 37 percent from Asia.

The ethnic composition of the population has also changed over the decades. In the 1950 census, the proportion of Afro-Americans was around ten percent; in 2010, their share was estimated at around 39 million and thus around 12.2 percent of the total population.
According to demographic projections, the white proportion of the population will shrink from approx. 63 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2060. During the same period, the black population will decrease from 13 to 15 percent and the Asian population from 5.1 to approx. 8.2 percent to grow. The largest increase will be in the Hispanic American population: in 2012, their share was 17 percent, which corresponds to around 50 million people. In 2060, they are expected to make up 31 percent of the total population.

Ethnic groups (& copy Figure 31 - Topic: Martin Luther King, "He Had a Dream", in: DIE ZEIT No. 35 of August 22, 2013)
As in most industrialized nations, the birth rate (live births per woman) is falling continuously in the USA. However, at 2.1 (as of 2010) it is much higher than in Germany at 1.39 (as of 2010). After the "baby boom" between 1940 and 1960 with an average of 24 births per 1,000 inhabitants, the birth rate fell steadily and in 2010 reached a level of around 13 births per 1,000 inhabitants. This will have far-reaching consequences for the age structure and social security of the population, especially as the average life expectancy of US citizens continues to rise: in 1960 it was 66.6 for men and 73.1 for women, compared with 76.2 and 80 for women in 2010 , 7 years. The proportion of people over 65 has almost doubled since 1940. In 2010 it was 13.6 percent of the total population and will increase significantly over the next few decades. However, as always in US history, new immigrants will have a positive impact on the age structure.