Projections for Year 2100 by Census Bureau

By Joseph Daleiden
Volume 10, Number 3 (Spring 2000)
Issue theme: "Revised projections: Census Bureau report projects a more crowded and balkanized U.S."

The U.S. Census Bureau just released its first forecasts for the year 2100. As usual, the Bureau calculated three series of projections, Lowest, Middle and Highest, based upon different assumptions of fertility, mortality and immigration rates. As shown in the chart, the projections for the end of this century range from almost no change to an astounding increase in population to 1.2 billion, about the same population as China has today.

The low forecast which shows a stabilizing of U.S. population would require an immediate drop in immigration from the present level of about 1.3 million legal and illegals annually to less than 200,000, and a continued decline to only 117,000 by the end of the century. Fertility rates would also have to fall dramatically from today's 2.04 children per woman to 1.6 children per woman by the end of the century.

The Middle Series would result in the population more than doubling to 571 million. This projection assumes that immigration is in the range of 900,000 to one million annually. Fertility rates rise very slightly to 2.2 children per woman by the year 2100.

It should be noted that, in effect, this projection ignores the current wave of illegal immigrants and thus understates immigration by 300,000 to 500,000 annually. By understating current im migration, it also probably understates the increase in fertility rates associated with increasing immigration.

The Highest Series assumes that immigration will continue to increase dramatically as it has in recent decades, reaching three million a year by the end of the century. It also assumes that higher immigration levels will result in driving up the fertility rate to 2.7 per woman. This is not unreasonable since the average fertility rate for Hispanics today - the source of the largest number of immigrants - is 2.9.

It should be understood that these projections are not predictions but choices, since the underlying assumptions of immigration (and to a large extent fertility rates) are determined by policies that the U.S. chooses to enact. It should also be understood that since it takes about 50 years for reduced immigration to be fully reflected in reduced population growth (fertility rates usually drop only with the children and grandchildren of immigrants), the longer we delay in reducing immigration, the larger the population increase.

Therefore the longer present excessive immigration levels are maintained, the more likely it is that total population will fall somewhere between the Middle and Highest Series. Moreover, based upon the experience in the U.S. and elsewhere, the more legal immigrants that arrive in a country, the greater will be the number of illegal immigrants. The reason is that legal immigrants frequently arrange to bring in family members both legally and illegally.

Therefore, it is possible that unless America reforms its immigration laws and regains control of its borders, immigration and population growth could well exceed the level of the Highest Series.

Certainly, if the Wall Street Journal and Libertarians who advocate an open borders policy get their way, America's population will soar far above even the Highest Projection of the Census Bureau. There is a very real possibility that by the end of this century, America will become not only the most populous nation on Earth, but the most densely populated nation as well. Already it appears that California will surpass China in population density in this century.

About the author

Joseph L. Daleiden is executive director of the Midwest Coalition to reform Immigration. A lecturer and author he is a frequent contributor to The Social Contract.