300 Million – Part One
Tomorrow, October 17, 2006 will be the day when the population of the United States of America will become 300 million. It will most likely get a lot of coverage, as round, big numbers always have a fascination for the media. In and of itself it is a non-event, as why is the 300 millionth birth more significant than the 301millionth birth? But it is a significant number relative to the history of this country and as it fits into the population growth of the world.
First here is some historical perspective on this event. The U.S. took 126 years to reach 100 million in 1915. It took another 52 years to reach 200 million in 1967 and then 39 years to reach 300 million. It is clear that we are reaching each milestone more quickly as population growth is exponential. That being said it is interesting to note that the rate of growth in the U.S. has been steadily slowing. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the average annual growth rate of the countryâ€™s population was 1.47% in 1950, 1.89% in 1955, and it peaked in 1965 at 2.08%. Since then there has been a steady decline; 1.7% in 1980, 1.56% in 1990 and 1.26%, the lowest of the last 50 years, in 2000. This decline in percentage growth is mirrored in all other developed countries, most noticeably Europe where, without immigration, the growth is actually flat to negative. In the less developed countries, the population growth percentages are significantly higher, which is one of the reasons there is now so much global migration of humanity. Global population is growing at a faster pace than U.S. population. In 1915 it was 1.8 billion, in 1967 it was 3.5 and today it is 6.5 billion
Now, letâ€™s take a fun look back at where we were when we crossed each of these hundred million thresholds in the U.S., all data courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cost for a gallon of regular gas
1915 25 cents ($5.01 in 2006 dollars)
1967 33 cents ($2.00 in 2006 dollars)
Price of a New Home
1915 $3,200 ($64,158 in 2006 dollars)
1967 $24,600 ($149,147 in 2006 dollars)
Average Household Size
1915 4.5 people
1967 3.3 people
2006 2.6 people
Number of people age 65 and older
1915 4.5 million
1967 19.1 million
2006 36.8 million
Median Age of the Population
1915 24.1 years
1915 54.5 years
1967 70.5 years
2006 77.8 years
Education â€” the percentage of the population with a high school diploma
Number of motor vehicle registrations
1915 2.5 million, or 2.5 % of the population
1967 98.9 million or 49% of the population
2006 237.2 million or 79% of the population
So, in comparing the 300 million of us to the 100 million of us 91 years ago we are older, live much longer, share much more expensive real estate with fewer people, are much better educated and all drive automobiles.
Tomorrow we will look at the 300 million population number as it relates to the future of the US and will also take a first look at global population growth and the future.