The American population will begin to decline before the end of the century

By | November 9, 2023

Before the end of the century, the U.S. population will stop growing for the first time in the country’s history and begin to decline, according to new data from the Census Bureau.

The Bureau’s national population projections for 2023 estimate that the population will peak at nearly 370 million in 2080 before falling to 366 million in 2100, an increase of only 9.7 percent between 2022 and 2100. This figure is good lower than the country’s growth rate each decade. most of the nation’s history.

The data, released Thursday, is the first such update since 2017 and the first to reflect the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. They paint a bleak picture of how immigration policy could affect the country’s development.

The projections are based on assumptions about births and deaths, which are relatively stable because they are based on fertility rates and the age of the population. They are also based on net international migration, which can fluctuate less predictably.

Immigrant adults tend to be younger and have higher fertility rates than their native-born counterparts. Demographers say they are essential to providing enough people to fill the labor force and balance the growing population of older Americans, and avoid the fate of countries like Japan and Germany, which have among the highest in the world people over 65 years old.

“These projections clearly show that immigration is absolutely critical to the country’s future population growth,” said William Frey, a senior demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the data. “It is also necessary to combat the extreme aging that we will otherwise experience with the youth of immigrants and their children.”

The new numbers reflect a steeper decline than previous projections, said Sandra Johnson, a demographer at the Census Bureau.

“The United States has seen notable changes in the components of population change over the past five years,” she said. “Some of them, such as the increase in mortality caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, are expected to be short-lived – while others, notably the decline in fertility that has persisted for decades, are expected to continue in the future. »

Hispanics and Asians drove U.S. population growth after pandemic, data shows

The bureau’s projections include four possible scenarios of population change by 2100, based on high, medium, low and no immigration to the United States.

In the most likely scenario, the population is expected to reach 366 million by 2100. The projection for the high immigration scenario places it at 435 million; the low immigration scenario puts it at 319 million by the end of the century.

The zero immigration scenario, which the bureau considers “largely illustrative,” projects that the population would begin to decline next year and fall to 226 million in 2100, about 107 million less than the 2022 estimate.

Frey’s analysis shows that even under the likely immigration scenario, which assumes net annual migration of between 850,000 and 950,000 people, growth in subsequent decades will be sharply reduced, from 4.1 percent in 2020-2030 and from 3 percent in 2030-2040 to 1.5 percent or less. in the decades until 2080. Low immigration of around 350,000 to 600,000 per year, similar to the years before the pandemic, would lead to a population decline starting in 2044.

The population will also age significantly, according to Frey’s analysis. Under all scenarios except high immigration of around 1.5 million people per year, the country’s under-18 population will continue to decline.

“This is particularly important by 2035, when the immigration of young adults and their children will make the difference between growth or decline in the working-age population, while baby boomers swell the ranks of those in age to retire,” Frey said.

The country should also continue its trajectory toward greater diversity. The 2020 census marked the first time the number of people identifying solely as White declined since a census began in 1790. It was also the first time the proportion of White people fell below 60%. The under-18 population is now predominantly made up of people of color.

The new projections show that under all scenarios, the non-Hispanic white population will continue to decline due to natural decline – more deaths than births – and lower immigration.

“All of the country’s population growth will be driven by people who identify with other races and ethnic groups, including multiracial people,” Frey said. “This is particularly true among younger generations. Even in the zero-immigration scenario, the nation will become more racially and ethnically diverse.

White residents will continue to make up the largest racial and ethnic group, followed by Hispanic and Black residents. The Whites alone group was the largest race or ethnic group in the United States in 2022 (58.9%), followed by Hispanics (19.1%) and Blacks alone (12.6%), according to the desk.

But the share of whites will continue to decline. By 2060, the single white population is projected to decline to 44.9% in the bureau’s most likely scenario, 42.7% in the high immigration scenario, 46.6% in the low immigration scenario, and 50.7 % in the zero immigration scenario.

In 2060, the Hispanic population is projected to increase to 26.9% in the most likely scenario, 27.8% in the high immigration scenario, 26.2% in the low immigration scenario, and 24.6% in the zero immigration scenario. The black population alone is expected to remain around 13% in 2060 under all immigration scenarios.

Regardless of immigration rates, the number of adults over 65 is expected to exceed the number of children under 18 between 2028 and 2030, the bureau found. It would be the first time in the country’s history that such a crossover would occur.

Immigration rates will determine the size of the share of the population over 65, projected to range from 27.4 percent in the high immigration scenario to 35.6 percent in the high immigration scenario. zero immigration.

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