LIFESTYLE

The Census Bureau sees an older, more diverse America in 2100 in three immigration scenarios

Nov 9, 2023, 8:05 AM

FILE - Bret Harte Retirement Inn residents make their way down to the dining room for lunch, May 6,...

FILE - Bret Harte Retirement Inn residents make their way down to the dining room for lunch, May 6, 2020, in Grass Valley, Calif. By the end of the century, the U.S. population will be declining without substantial immigration, senior citizens will outnumber children and the share of white residents who aren't Hispanic will be less than half of the population, according to population projections released Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 by the U.S. Census Bureau. (Elias Funez/The Union via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Elias Funez/The Union via AP, File)

By the end of the century, the U.S. population will be declining without substantial immigration, older adults will outnumber children and white, non- Hispanic, residents will account for less than 50% of the population, according to projections released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The population projections offer a glimpse of what the nation may look like at the turn of the next century, though a forecast decades into the future can’t predict the unexpected like a global pandemic.

The projections can help the U.S. prepare for change, from anticipating the demands of health care for seniors to providing insight into the number of schools that need to be built over the coming decades, said Paul Ong, a public affairs professor at UCLA.

“As most demographers realize, population projection is not an inevitable destiny, just a glimpse into a possible future,” Ong said. “’Seeing’ that possibility also opens up opportunities for action.”

Population changes due to births and deaths, which are more predictable, and immigration, more uncertain. Because of that, the Census Bureau offers three different projections through 2100 based on high, medium and low immigration.

Under the low-immigration scenario, the U.S. population shrinks to 319 million people by 2100, from the current population of 333 million residents. It grows to 365 million people at the end of the century under the medium immigration scenario and to 435 million residents with high immigration. In each immigration scenario, the country is on track to become older and more diverse.

Americans of college age are already part of a majority-minority cohort.

Aliana Mediratta, a 20-year-old student at Washington University in St. Louis welcomes a future with a more diverse population and believes immigration “is great for our society and our economy.”

But that optimism is tempered by existential worries that things seem to be getting worse, including climate change and gun violence.

“I feel like I have to be optimistic about the future, since if I’m pessimistic, it disables me from doing things that I want to do, that are hard, but morally right to do,” Mediratta said.

Here’s a look at how the U.S. population is expected to change through 2100, using the medium immigration scenario.

2020s

By 2029, older adults will outnumber children, with 71 million U.S. residents aged 65 and older and 69 million residents under age 18.

The numeric superiority of seniors will mean fewer workers. Combined with children, they’ll represent 40% of the population. Only around 60% of the population that is working age — between 18 and 64 — will be paying the bulk of taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

2030s

“Natural increase” in the U.S. will go negative in 2038, meaning deaths outpacing births due to an aging population and declines in fertility. The Census projects 13,000 more deaths than births in the U.S., and that shortfall grows to 1.2 million more deaths than births by 2100.

2050s

By 2050, the share of the U.S. population that is white and not Hispanic will be under 50% for the first time.

Currently, 58.9% of U.S. residents are white, and not Hispanic. By 2050, Hispanic residents will account for a quarter of the U.S. population, up from 19.1% today. African Americans will make up 14.4% of the population, up from 13.6% currently. Asians will account for 8.6% of the population, up from 6.2% today.

Also in the 2050s, Asians will surpass Hispanics as the largest group of immigrants by race or ethnicity.

2060s

The increasing diversity of the nation will be most noticeable in children. By the 2060s, non-Hispanic white children will be a third of the population under age 18, compared to under half currently.

2080s

Under that medium immigration scenario, the U.S. population peaks at more than 369 million residents in 2081. After that, the Census Bureau predicts a slight population decline, with deaths outpacing births and immigration.

2090s

By the end of the 2090s, the foreign population will make up almost 19.5% of U.S. residents, the highest share since the Census Bureau started keeping track in 1850. The highest rate previously was 14.8% in 1890. It currently is 13.9%.

FOREIGN BORN AND IMMIGRATION

Experts say that predicting immigration trends is more difficult than in the past when migration was tightly linked to the pull of economic opportunity in the U.S.

When immigration is instead driven by the push of climate change, social tensions exacerbated by authoritarian rulers and gangs, as well as fluctuating anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S., it is harder to predict, said Manuel Pastor, a professor of sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

“In the past we would say we get immigration from economics, and you can make some reasonable projections,” Pastor said. “Now, we have these push pressures for people to come to the U.S., and we have a further racialized reaction to migration, we have a much wider band or error, or the potential to make mistakes.”

RELIABILITY

How reliable will the numbers be, especially as race and ethnic definitions change, and immigration levels are hard to predict?

While there is an extreme level of uncertainty projecting almost eight decades into the future, it is a good starting point, said Ong, the UCLA professor.

“Over 80 years, birth and death rates, fertility rates, and migration rates can be changed through policies, programs and resources,” Ong said.

Mediratta, the college student, imagines that 20-year-olds like her two centuries ago were also concerned about the future, but they didn’t have TikTok or Instagram to amplify their worries.

“It seems like things are bad all the time,” Mediratta said. “I feel that things were probably bad all the time 200 years ago, but nobody could tell everyone about it.”

___

Follow Mike Schneider on X, formerly known as Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP.

Lifestyle

A second-floor balcony at the Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida, on Wednesday, July 17, ...

Associated Press

Ernest Hemingway fans celebrate the author’s 125th birthday in his beloved Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Ernest Hemingway spent the 1930s in Key West, Florida, and more than six decades after his death, fans, scholars and relatives continue to congregate on the island city to celebrate the author’s award-winning novels and adventure-filled life. Hemingway Days started in 1981 with a short-story competition and a look-alike contest. […]

2 days ago

This photo provided by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows the Bissell Steam Shot Handhel...

Associated Press

Over 3 million steam cleaners are under recall because they can spew hot water and cause burns

NEW YORK (AP) — Some 3.3 million steam cleaners are being recalled across North America due to a burn hazard that has resulted in consumers reporting more than 150 injuries. Select models of Bissell-branded “Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaners” can spew hot water or steam while the products are in use or being heated up, […]

4 days ago

FILE - In this image provided by KFOR-TV, a heavily damaged vehicle is seen off a road in Tishoming...

Associated Press

After crash that killed 6 teens, NTSB chief says people underestimate marijuana’s impact on drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A horrific crash that killed six high school girls in Oklahoma two years ago has the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board urging parents to warn teenagers about the risk of driving after using marijuana. Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy made the appeal to parents Thursday as her agency released the final […]

4 days ago

Residents walk through the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. (AP P...

Associated Press

The uncertainty that plagues life in crisis-ridden Venezuela is also wreaking havoc on relationships

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Victoria Estevez finally met someone who saw past her shyness. They spent two months learning about their likes and dislikes, texting about their families and friends, and walking around their hometowns on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. On a trip to the capital in December, they held each other for the first time. […]

5 days ago

Gracie Wiener poses for a photo with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, W...

Associated Press

Historic utility AND high fashion. 80-year-old LL Bean staple finds a new audience as a trendy bag

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — L.L. Bean created it 80 years ago to haul heavy blocks of ice. Now it’s a must-have summer fashion accessory. The simple, sturdy canvas bag called the Boat and Tote is having an extended moment 80 years after its introduction, thanks to a social media trend in which they’re monogrammed with […]

5 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...

Associated Press

Trump’s escape from disaster by mere inches reveals a tiny margin with seismic impact

NEW YORK (AP) — Jarring, chaotic and sudden, the bullet whizzed toward the stage where former President Donald Trump stood behind a podium speaking. In its wake: the potential for a horrifying and tragic chapter in American history. But the Republican presidential candidate had a narrow escape — mere inches, possibly less — in Saturday’s […]

7 days ago

The Census Bureau sees an older, more diverse America in 2100 in three immigration scenarios