U.S. population will decline fast without immigration: Census report

Washington: Limiting immigration over the next four decades, as some hardliner Conservatives want to aim for, would do little to stop the racial diversification of the United States – but it could push the country into a population decline, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the first time in a decade, the federal agency charted how varying degrees of immigration could impact the U.S. population in terms of growth, age and racial diversity and its labor force, reports Washington Post.

Its conclusions, experts said, underscore the important role immigrants play in keeping the U.S. population trending upward.

“We desperately need immigration to keep our country growing and prosperous,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the Census numbers this week. “The reason we have a good growth rate in comparison to other developed countries in the world is because we’ve had robust immigration for the last 30 to 40 years.”

The Census compared population estimates based on immigration trends from 2011 to 2015 and ran several “what if” scenarios to see how changing the flow of immigrants could impact the population as a whole.

Analysts compared the status quo to a “high immigration” scenario in which immigration would increase by about 50 percent; a “low immigration” scenario in which immigration would decline by about 50 percent; and a “zero immigration” scenario that demonstrates what would happen if immigration ground to a complete stop.

Immigration fluctuations between now and 2060 could make the difference of as many as 127 million people in the U.S. population, the Census found.

If immigration declines by 50 percent, the United States would still add about 53 million people over the next four decades, the report says.

But if immigration is stopped altogether, the population would stall out in 2035, after which point the population would slide into a decline. By 2060, under a zero-immigration scenario, the Census found the U.S. population could reach a low of 320 million people with a large and rapidly aging senior population.

The population of American seniors – aged 65 and older – is expected to surpass the population of children under the age of 18 in every scenario, though higher immigration patterns would delay the inevitable: In the zero-immigration plot, seniors outpace children by the year 2029; in the high-immigration pattern, seniors don’t overtake children until 2045.

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