United States Demographic Conditions

United States Demographic Conditions

North America

The general population census carried out on April 1, 1940, revealed, in the Union as a whole, 131,669,275 residents, that is to say 8,894,229 residents. more than 1930. The resulting percentage increase (7.2%) is the lowest so far recorded in the demographic history of the USA, more than half that of the 1920-30 decade (16.1%) and even to that of the decade 1910-20, which was even less high (14.9%). The variations that occurred in the US population between the last two censuses present, as was to be expected, somewhat different aspects from area to area. The maximum increases, in absolute figures, concerned the South Atlantic and Pacific states, united by a seamless strip of territory (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona), in which the increases themselves were always above the Union average; the lower figures, on the other hand, are sometimes not reflected in the relative ones, as is the case in the mountain and central-southern states, whose percentage values ​​also overwhelmed the overall average. Thus, for example, New Mexico and Nevada are among the states that had a higher rate of growth, but this growth affected a very modest absolute population.

In the decade 1920-30 the increase of the population, as well as being much more conspicuous, in an absolute and relative sense, did not suffer, it can be said, exception. In the decade 1930-40, however, the negative indices touched six states, four of which (South and North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas) form a large continuous zone, from the Canadian border to Texas, coinciding with that cereal region of the USA in which climate and soil make crops more random. The significant decrease (241,000 residents), As well as with the general crisis, must be related to an imbalance between the economic potential of the area and its demographic load which has deep causes (in the first place the soil erosion, and the consequent depletion of arable land due to the rapid surface denudation). The period of the most intense immigration (in the decade 1900-10 the population increased in North Dakota by 80.8% and by 45.4% in South Dakota) was followed first by a slowing down of the pace of immigration and finally a partial depopulation., which went on and on. Naturally, the crisis did not spare those parts of the finite states, whose natural conditions are similar to those of the previous region. This explains the weak growth rate of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois, as well as the decrease marked by Oklahoma, where, among other things, the extractive industry (oil) had attracted a significant immigration stream. (109.7% increase in the period 1900-10).

Demographic stasis, or at least contingent saturation, denounced some of the most prosperous states of the Union, such as those of New England; an area, this one, which collected, alone, more than a quarter of the entire population of the USA over 1/33 of their territory.

To a lesser extent, the phenomenon was repeated in the central states of NO., Another sector, also with a strong demographic, urban and industrial concentration. About one-twelfth of the Union’s surface area, more than one-fifth of the total population lived here. In all the rest of the USA, the growth rate exceeded the overall average in 1930-40, except for Montana, which is however very sparsely populated (1.4 residents per sq. Km, as for the whole of Canada).. However, it would be wrong to relate this active balance to the natural increase of the population. The growth rates remained high, especially in comparison with those of the previous decade, only in four states: Florida, California,

The remaining midday states (such as on the Atlantic, as well as on the Gulf of Mexico) and the mountainous ones recorded much less conspicuous gains. The growth rate exceeded 10% in Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana, but, even in such cases, instead of a natural increase, one must think of the consequences of more or less intense immigration currents.

The migratory currents took on, in times close to us, characters very different from those of the great flow that made the rapid development of the Union possible. The contraction of the immigration movement that brought 38.6 million new citizens to its territory between 1820 and 1946, is matched, especially after the severe economic crisis of 1930-34, by a no less impressive movement of masses in the within the vast Confederation. Between 1940 and 1947 over half (56.4%) of Americans changed residence, passing 10.1% (ie 12.4 million individuals) from one state to another; 10.6% (13.1 million) from one county to another in the same state; and 36.2% (44.4 million) from one location to another in the same county. Such a conspicuous phenomenon is not only an expression of a tendency towards leveling out between areas with high and low population density, but it follows a complex of different causes, mostly economic: the overpopulation of large urban centers, the mechanization of agriculture, and the spread of unemployment, which is its immediate expression. The zone of most intense emigration is the middle one that goes from the Ohio and Mississippi courses to the Rocky Mountains; that of the most intense immigration is the Far West, from California to the Canadian border. The three states along the Pacific are the destination of two currents, the first originating in the mid-Atlantic states (especially Pennsylvania and New York) and enlarged by those of the NW Center. (Illinois and Iowa), the second, which moves from the southern Allegani and receives elements from the southern cotton states: of the two, the most conspicuous refers to California which among the three coastal states has accused the greatest demographic gain. Significant population shifts also take place between N. and S. from the Atlantic states, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee to Florida.

Finally, it is necessary to distinguish the internal migrations of the Whites (essentially oriented in the direction, which we could say traditional, E.-O). from those of the colored populations, which last, moving from noon towards the north, feed three main currents: one from Louisiana and Mississippi to Montana and Illinois, a second from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky to ‘Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois (Chicago), and one last from Virginia to the great urban centers of the Mid- and North Atlantic states.

The demographic changes that took place after 1940 are quite different, and no less interesting, in relation to the repercussions caused throughout the Confederation by the events of the Second World War. As for the demographic ratios between the various states, it will be enough to note the new leap forward made by the South Atlantic ones and above all by the three on the Pacific, which places, for example, California in third place and Texas in fourth place for number of residents; and, on the other hand, the accentuated depopulation of all the states that in the decade 1930-40 marked a decrease in residents (except Kansas), to which, after the war, Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, the Mississippi, Arkansas, Idaho and Montana, the latter with a high rate of decline. A registry calculation, performed in mid-1947, found a population of 143,387,000 residents Thus the US population grew between 1940 and 1947 by over 12.3 million residents, that is even more than in the entire decade 1930-40.

As for the natural movement of the population, the statistics gathered in the following table indicate, during and after the war period, a notable demographic recovery, which explains the exceptional increase in population which occurred in the period 1940-47.

The rural population, which made up 48.8% of the total in 1920, made up 43.8% in 1930 and 43.5% in 1940; on the latter date, the urban population in the metropolitan area amounted to 57.245.573 souls, distributed as follows: 12.1 million in 5 metropolises with more than 1 million residents; 4.9 million in 9 centers from 500,000 to 1 million residents; 5.9 million in 23 centers from 250 to 500 thousand residents; 5.9 million in 55 cities from 100 to 250 thousand residents; 5.6 million in 107 cities from 50 to 100 thousand residents; the rest in 3,265 centers between 2,500 and 50,000 residents.

Among the cities with more than 100,000 residents, Evansville (Ind.), E. Paso (Tex.) And Lynn (Mass.), Which were among those in 1930, counted less than 100,000 residents. in 1940, and gave way to Sacramento (Calif.: 105,958 in 1940) and to Utica (N. Y: 100,518). Of the 93 major cities of 1930, 33 (35.4%) saw their population decrease in the decade 1930-40: thus Philadelphia, the third largest city in the Union by number of residents (loss of 1.0%; 1.391. 337 residents In 1940): Cleveland, Ohio (873.336), which nevertheless continues to occupy the eighth place among the North American cities; St. Louis. Mo. (816,048); Boston, Mass. (770,816); Newark, NJ (429,760); Kansas City, Mo. (399,178), Rochester, NY (324,975); Jersey City, NJ (301,173); Toledo, Ohio (282.349), etc. In general, the major urban centers did not present, in the decade 1930-40, large population increases (if Washington is removed, see). Significant gains made, for example, Miami, Fla. (55.4%, 172,172 residents In 1940), San Diego, Cal. (37.3%, 203,341); Jaksonville, Fla. (33.5%, 173,065); Houston, Tex. (31.6%, 384,514); Atlanta, Ga. (12.0%, 302,288), and several other centers in the southern and western states.

The consequences of the internal migrations mentioned above are also revealed in the modifications made to the urban nuclei. If the number of large cities – considered as administrative units – is stationary, the number of urban agglomerations has grown considerably, that is, the areas that constitute pole-geographic units (metropolitan districts of the census) in which the real cities are united with the neighboring centers and satellites (usually within a radius of approximately 6-7 km) that gravitate to them. The most populous of these agglomerations was naturally that of New York in 1940 (see in this App.). Since the numerical importance of these agglomerations does not always correspond to that of the main city center around which they formed, we give below the metropolitan districts which in 1940 had more than half a million residents each.

Of the 131.7 million residents in 1940, whites were 118.2 million (89.7%) of which 106.8 were counted as born to indigenous parents (81.1%) and 11.4 to foreign parents (8.6%). Among the latter, the Italians hold first place with 1,623,589 units (see below); followed by the Germans (1,237,772); the Russians (1,040,884), the Poles (993,479), the English (621,975), the Irish (572,031), etc. Negroes had risen to 12,865,518 souls in 1940, but their proportion of the total US population fell from 9.7% in 1930 to 9.0% in 1940 (see section on American Negroes below). As for the Indians, in 1940 they numbered 333,969 units; their percentage of the total population dropped from 0.27 in 1930 to 0.25 in 1940.

Italians. – Of the 1.6 million Italians that the cens. 1940 notes among the foreign born, just under half live in the state of New York (584,075 souls); 197,281 in Pennsylvania, 169,063 in New Jersey, 114,362 in Massachusetts, 100,911 in California; 98,244 in Illinois, 81,873 in Connecticut, etc. According to more recent sources, around 1,638,000 Italians live in the state of New York alone (1,200,000 in the urban nucleus alone); 797,000 in the north-eastern states and 583,000 in the rest of the Confederation; in total 3,018,000.

United States Demographic Conditions