Thursday, January 13, 2000

America is getting bigger fast almost entirely because of immigration.

The Census Bureau’s first prediction for growth in the next 100 years has the U.S. population more than doubling.

The bureau reported yesterday that the nation will have expanded from 273 million people in 1999 to 571 million by the year 2100.

And as Census Bureau analyst Frederick W. Hollmann explains:

“Even though childbearing levels in the United States remain quite close to the level needed only to replace the population, the increasing number of potential parents and continued migration from abroad would be sufficient to add nearly 300 million people during the next century.”

The Census Bureau states in its report that it has based its long-range predictions “on assumptions about future childbearing, mortality and migration.” It made several sets of calculations, figuring the lowest and highest likely population changes over the period and also the midrange projections. It’s the “middle series projections” that Mr. Hollmann referred to, and they are the ones reported here.

In just the next 50 years, the bureau reckons the country will harbor 404 million people. By then the Hispanic population will have tripled to 98.2 million. Hispanics then would constitute 24 percent of the population, and they would have continued their reign as the major minority group a status they will achieve by 2005.

The Asian and Pacific Islander population also is expected to increase threefold by 2050, expanding to 37.6 million and rising from the current 4 percent to 9 percent of the U.S. population.

Mr. Hollmann says the Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the United States typically tend to be younger than others. For that reason and also because those groups tend to be reinforced by newcomers from abroad, “these populations will become increasingly prominent,” he says.

The African-American community presumably will grow from 34.9 million in 1999 to 59.2 million in 2050, but its share of the population will increase only slightly from 13 percent to 15 percent.

The next five decades also are expected to see the number of persons aged 65 and over climb from 34.6 million in 1999 to 82 million. That’s a 137 percent increase.

Eleven years from now the baby boomers meaning those born between 1946 and 1964 will begin celebrating their sixty-fifth birthdays. From then until 2030, the number of elderly in the nation will rise from 40.4 million and 13 percent of the population to 70.3 million and 20 percent of the populace.

Yet while the proportion of oldsters in the population is expected to soar to new levels, the proportion of youngsters will dive.

Currently there are some 70.2 million youths under the age of 18. The figure will climb to 95.7 million by 2050, but the children’s share of the population will decline gradually in the period, falling from 26 percent to 24 percent.

The lowest population growth the Census Bureau calculated for the next 50 years would have the population growing to 314 million in 2050 then declining to 283 million by 2100. The highest estimate projects the population reaching 553 million by 2050 and 1.2 billion by 2100.

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