Sunday, September 9, 2007

Immigration, Fertility, and Policy

Last Saturday the Times reported that a Chinese woman and her husband received asylum after a harrowing turn of events in 2006.

The couple had been residing illegally in the U.S., where she delivered two children, both U.S. citizens. Returning to China, she argued, would subject her to risk due to China's One Child Policy. When immigration officials tried to deport her in 2006, she miscarried twins, a personal tragedy and public relations disaster for the U.S.

Immigration and fertility policy are the two most overt types of population policies; countries can of course alter mortality as well. Seeing the two collide in an international setting like this reminds one of the fundamental questions of population science: what is the optimal population size?