Options Magazine – Summer 2012. Differing fertility rates could play a role in deciding America’s long-term political future. In the first study of its kind, published in March 2012, IIASA researchers applied demographic projection techniques to political party preference in America. “Findings suggest the effects of migration, fertility, and age structure on the make-up of electorates have been greatly neglected,” says IIASA’s Anne Goujon.
Based on US survey and census data, researchers projected possible changes in party allegiance between America’s Republican and Democratic parties up to 2043 and beyond. Projections suggest that the Democrats will gain 2–3% more support than the Republicans by 2043, mainly through immigration. But, as the long-run projections show, the higher fertility of Republicans may eventually offset that advantage.
The fertility of women who support the Republican party has been rising at an increasing pace relative to that of their Democrat counterparts since the 1950s and has now reached parity. However, Republican’s total fertility rates (TFR) are expected to decline more slowly than that of the Democrats. Hence, by 2043 Republicans could have a TFR of 1.8 compared to a TFR of 1.4 for Democrats.
This scenario would have a negligible impact on party preference by 2043. But if it were to continue into the very long run (i.e., beyond 2100), the Republican fertility advantage would, in the event of reduced immigration, result in support for the Republicans overtaking that of the Democrats.
“Fertility differences between political parties take even longer than immigration to produce changes in party support, but may bring more significant socio-political change than immigration over the course of the century,” Goujon concludes.
Eric Kaufmann, Anne Goujon & Vegard Skirbekk (2012): American political affiliation, 2003–43: A cohort component projection, Population Studies: A Journal of Demography, 66:1, 53-67 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2011.628047.
Last edited: 17 October 2012
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