Friday, December 7, 2012

Immigration Not a Fix for an Aging Population

Study Projects 41% Increase in Population by 2050

A new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Center for Immigration Studies projects the impact of immigration on the size and composition of the U.S. population. The findings reveal that immigration makes for a much larger overall population, while having only a minimal effect on slowing the aging of American society.

Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research, notes, “there is simply no question immigration makes for a much larger and more densely settled country, but it is not a cure for an aging society.”

The complete study can be found here.

Among the findings:

If net immigration (difference between those coming and going) unfolds as the Census Bureau estimated in the last set of projections, the nation’s population will increase from 309 million in 2010 to 436 million in 2050 — a 127 million (41 percent) increase.

The projected increase of 127 million is larger than the combined populations of the U.K. and France.

By itself future immigration will account for 96 million (75 percent) of future population growth.

The immigrant (legal and illegal) share of the population will reach one in six U.S. residents by 2030, a new record, and nearly one in five residents by 2050.

The Center for Immigration Studies, as well as other researchers, has found that immigration levels have fallen somewhat in recent years. While there is no way to know if the level will remain lower, this change can be incorporated into these projections:

A one-third reduction in the Census Bureau’s level of net immigration over the next four decades (2010-2050) produces a total U.S. population of 404 million in 2050 — a 95 million increase over 2010.

Even if immigration is half what the Census Bureau expects, the population will still grow 79 million by 2050, with immigration accounting for 61 percent of population growth.

The underlying level of immigration is so high, even assuming a substantial reduction would still add tens of millions of new residents to the U.S. population and account for most of the population growth.

Consistent with prior research, the projections show immigration only slightly increases the working-age (18 to 65) share of the population. Assuming the Census Bureau’s immigration level, 58 percent of the population will be of working-age in 2050, compared to 57 percent if there is no immigration.

Raising the retirement age by one year would have a larger positive impact on the working-age share over the next 40 years then would the Census Bureau’s projected level of net immigration (68 million).

While immigrants tend to arrive relatively young and have higher fertility than natives, immigrants age just like everyone else, and the differences with natives are not large enough to fundamentally increase the share of the population who are potential workers.


While immigration is the primary driver of population growth, even without immigration, the population will increase by 31 million by 2050.  The long term trend in immigration has been a steady increase, and this seems likely to continue once the U.S. economy recovers.  But, even if immigration is half of what the Census Bureau expected in the 2008 projections, the U.S. population will still grow by 79 million by 2050, with immigration accounting for 61 percent of population growth.  

The fundamental question for the American public and policy makers is whether a much larger population and the resulting greater population density will add to or diminish the quality of life in the United States.  Immigration is a discretionary policy of the government and can be changed.  These projections show us one possible future. We must decide as a country if this is the future we want.


The report contains a detailed explanation of the study’s methodology.  In sum, the Center for Immigration and Decision Demographics of Arlington, Virginia developed the projections model used in this analysis.  We first replicated the official 2008 Census Bureau projections, their last full set of projections, by race/ethnicity. This was possible because the Census Bureau Projections Branch was kind enough to share unpublished data that it used to generate its last major series of projections. In total, the Bureau’s net immigration projection is 68.3 million for the period 2010 to 2050.  We vary this base level of immigration to discern its’ impact on population size and composition.  These projections follow the Census Bureau’s assumptions about future levels of immigration and death and birth rates, including a decline in the birth rate for Hispanics.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.  The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Illegal immigration to U.S. stays down, Pew's latest numbers show

There are about 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, a figure that has remained relatively constant over the last two years, according to the latest estimates released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The numbers come as President Obama prepares to push immigration reform as a key part of his second-term agenda. They also come as  analyses highlight the greater role Latinos played in the recent presidential election.

The 11.1-million figure compares with 11.2 million in 2010 and 11.1 million in 2009.

The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S., which stood at about 8.4 million in 2000, peaked at about 12 million in 2007 and has been tapering since, according to the analysis prepared by demographers Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn of the Hispanic Center, part of the Pew Research Center.

The decrease was driven mainly by a drop in the number of immigrants arriving from Mexico, the largest source of migration to the U.S. The Pew Hispanic Center reported earlier this year that net immigration from Mexico to the United States had stopped and possibly reversed through 2010.

At the peak, about 770,000 immigrants were arriving annually from Mexico, the majority of them illegally. By 2010, the inflow had dropped to about 140,000, and the majority arrived legally, according to the center’s estimates.

In addition, the number of Mexicans and their children who moved from the United States to Mexico between 2005 and 2010 roughly doubled compared with the five-year period a decade earlier, the center said.

Pew's estimates are based on data mainly from the Current Population Survey, a monthly polling of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.

Despite the falling or stable numbers, the political debate on immigration has been rising. Immigration-- and whether to provide a path to U.S. citizenship -- was a litmus test during the GOP battle for the presidential nomination.

In a bid to win the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney moved to the right to appease conservatives who oppose what they call amnesty for  undocumented immigrants. The shift made it difficult for the former Massachusetts governor to appeal to Latinos in the general election.

Obama won about 71% of the Latino vote, compared with Romney’s 27%, according to exit polls cited by Pew. That was the best showing by a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Latinos accounted for about 10% of all presidential voters this year, a record turnout for the group and a figure that is expected to increase in coming years.


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