February 11, 2008

U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050

Executive Summary

If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center.

Of the 117 million people added to the population during this period due to the effect of new immigration, 67 million will be the immigrants themselves and 50 million will be their U.S.-born children or grandchildren.

Among the other key population projections:

The Center’s projections are based on detailed assumptions about births, deaths and immigration levels—the three key components of population change. All these assumptions are built on recent trends. But it is important to note that these trends can change. All population projections have inherent uncertainties, especially for years further in the future, because they can be affected by changes in behavior, by new immigration policies, or by other events. Nonetheless, projections offer a starting point for understanding and analyzing the parameters of future demographic change.

The Center’s report includes an analysis of the nation’s future “dependency ratio”—the number of children and elderly compared with the number of working-age Americans. There were 59 children and elderly people per 100 adults of working age in 2005. That will rise to 72 dependents per 100 adults of working age in 2050.

The report also offers two alternative population projections, one based on lower immigration assumptions and one based on higher immigration assumptions.

Read the full report for more details.