US demographic stability requires immigration, but only in moderation.

David Smith
Read Time5 Minute, 24 Second

By the middle of the 21st century, approximately 40 countries are projected to have fewer populations. This group excludes the United States but includes China, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, and Ukraine.

The continued demographic growth of the United States stands in stark contrast to the population declines in other wealthy countries and many less developed nations.

The expected population decreases in Japan, South Korea, Italy, China, Russia, Spain, and Germany are 16 percent, 12 percent, 11 percent, 8 percent, 7 percent, and 5 percent, respectively. According to the Census Bureau, the American population is projected to increase by 17 percent by 2050.

The United States will continue to have the world’s third-largest population for at least the next several decades. Following India’s population of 1.6 billion and China’s population of 1.3 billion, the U.S. population is anticipated to reach 390 million in 2050. Several years later, however, the United States will fall to fourth place as Nigeria’s population is anticipated to surpass 400 million by 2055.

The expected decreases are primarily attributable to a fertility rate below the replacement level without adequate numbers of overseas migrants to compensate. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s 8 billion people currently reside in countries with fertility rates below the replacement threshold of 2.1 births per woman.

The fertility rate in the United States went below the replacement level more than a decade ago and has remained below that level ever since. In 2021, the U.S. fertility rate was 1.66 births per woman, somewhat higher than the average fertility rate of 1.53 births per woman in industrialized nations.

The United States below-replacement fertility rate is projected to persist for the foreseeable future. Parenthood is being delayed to older ages, and fewer births occur per woman for various economic, social, and personal reasons, such as higher education, work, careers, the cost of childrearing, and lifestyle preferences.

In the past three decades, the median age of U.S. women giving birth has climbed from 27 to 30 years, the highest on record. Sixteen percent of persons aged 55 and older in the United States do not have children.


In addition, fertility rates decreased by over 43 percent among women aged 20 to 24 and more than 22 percent among women aged 25 to 29. In contrast, the rates climbed by over 67% for women between the ages of 35 and 39 and by over 132% for women between the ages of 40 and 44.

In the remaining decades of the 21st century, population estimates often assume that the fertility rate in the United States will remain roughly constant. Therefore, international migration is anticipated to play a substantial influence in the future population expansion of the United States.

By 2030, for instance, international migration is forecast to reach a demographic milestone or turning point for the United States since it is projected to become the nation’s principal population growth driver. Also, by that time, the percentage of foreign-born Americans is predicted to hit a historic high of 15 percent.

In addition, by 2040, the annual net number of international migrants to the United States is projected to be double that of natural growth, which is the difference between births and deaths. Also, by mid-century, the net number of foreign migrants is predicted to be approximately three times that of natural population growth.

In 2020, the foreign-born population in the United States reached an all-time high of more than 45 million or about 14 percent of the total population. Over the next four decades, it is anticipated that America will accept more than one million immigrants yearly. If these levels persist, the number of foreign-born Americans is anticipated to exceed 69 million by 2060, or roughly one in every six individuals living in the country then.

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The United States has around 16 percent of the world’s international migrants despite having only four percent of the world’s population. This number is more than three times the percentage of foreign-born individuals in second-place Germany.

Without foreign migration, the United States’ population would soon begin to shrink in the same manner as many other nations across the world.

Without immigration, the United States population would begin to decline in about 2035 and continue throughout the century. In 2060, for instance, the United States is anticipated to have around 85 million fewer people if there is no foreign migration compared to approximately 1 million yearly international migration.

If foreign migration to the United States were to expand significantly in the future, as it looks to be doing currently, the predicted U.S. population would increase. For instance, if net international migration were 50 percent higher than levels predicted for the following decades, the U.S. population in 2060 would be 447 million, or 42 million more than the primary prediction.

In addition to legal immigration, illegal immigration to the United States is on the rise. The current number of undocumented immigrants in the country is at least 11 million and rising, which is hardly surprising given that the United States is the leading destination for the tens of millions of men and women seeking to immigrate.

In addition, more than 2 million undocumented migrants crossed the southern border and were captured or turned into U.S. authorities in 2021. This number of illegal immigrants does not include those who are not stopped or caught.

In addition to illegal immigration along the southern border, many visitors to the United States overstay their temporary visas to acquire employment, integrate into communities, and eventually become citizens.

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The United States’ unique population is not a result of its reproduction rate; rather, it owes to the anticipated future levels of foreign migration, which are likely to exceed 1 million people yearly.

Despite the growing demographic impact of foreign migration on the future of the United States, Congress has been unable to pass a clear and comprehensive immigration policy. The U.S. government and its major political parties have politicized international migration to the harm of America, its citizens, and the tradition of accepting immigrants and refugees embodied by the Statue of Liberty.

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