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U.S. Population Projected to Begin Declining in Second Half of Century

NOV. 9, 2023 — The U.S. population is projected to reach a high of nearly 370 million in 2080 before edging downward to 366 million in 2100. By 2100, the total U.S. resident population is only projected to increase 9.7% from 2022, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau population projections released today. The projections provide possible scenarios of population change for the nation through the end of the century.

The 2023 National Population Projections is an update to the last series of projections, published in 2017, to account for the impact of COVID-19 and to reflect the results of the 2020 Census through its inclusion of the Vintage 2022 National Population Estimates as a base. It also extends the population projections to 2100, the first time since 2000 that the Census Bureau projections have stretched this far into the future.

“In an ever-changing world, understanding population dynamics is crucial for shaping policies and planning resources,” stated Sandra Johnson, a demographer at the Census Bureau.

“The U.S. has experienced notable shifts in the components of population change over the last five years,” she explained. “Some of these, like the increases in mortality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, are expected to be short-term while others, including the declines in fertility that have persisted for decades, are likely to continue into the future. Incorporating additional years of data on births, deaths and international migration into our projections process resulted in a slower pace of population growth through 2060 than was previously projected.”

Projections illustrate possible courses of population change based on assumptions about future births, deaths and net international migration. The 2023 projections include a main series (also known as the middle series) considered the most likely outcome of four assumptions, and three alternative immigration scenarios that show how the population might change under high, low and zero immigration assumptions.

Other highlights:

Total Population

  • By 2100, the total population in the middle series is projected to reach 366 million compared to the projection for the high-immigration scenario, which puts the population at 435 million. The population for the middle series increases to a peak at 370 million in 2080 and then begins to decline, dropping to 366 million in 2100. The high-immigration scenario increases every year and is projected to reach 435 million by 2100.
  • The low-immigration scenario is projected to peak at around 346 million in 2043 and decline thereafter, dropping to 319 million in 2100.
  • Though largely illustrative, the zero-immigration scenario projects that population declines would start in 2024 in the complete absence of foreign-born immigration. The population in this scenario is projected to be 226 million in 2100, roughly 107 million lower than the 2022 estimate.

Drivers of Population Change

  • In each of the projection scenarios except for the zero-immigration scenario, immigration is projected to become the largest contributor to population growth.
  • In the middle series and the high-immigration scenario, net international migration is higher than natural increase (the difference between births and deaths) in all years of the time series. For the low-immigration scenario, this crossover happens in 2029.
  • Reduced fertility and an aging population result in natural decrease — an excess of deaths relative to births — in all projection scenarios. This happens in 2038 in the main series, 2033 in the zero-immigration scenario, 2036 in the low-immigration scenario, and in 2042 in the high-immigration scenario.

Age and Sex

  • Continued declines in fertility are projected to shift the age structure of the population so that there will be more adults age 65 or older compared to children under age 18.
  • In the middle series, the share of the population in the older age group surpasses that of the younger age group in 2029 and, by 2100, 29.1% of the population is projected to be age 65 or older compared to 16.4% under age 18. This crossover happens in 2030 in the high-immigration scenario, 2029 in the low-immigration scenario, and 2028 in the zero-immigration scenario.
  • The share of the population age 65 or older in 2100 ranges from 27.4% in the high-immigration scenario to 35.6% in the zero-immigration scenario.
  • Similarly, the median age of the U.S. population, which represents the age at which half the population is older and half is younger, is projected to increase over time in all projection scenarios.
  • In 2022, the median age for the total population was 38.9. In 2100, this is projected to increase to 47.9 in the middle series, 46.5 in the high-immigration scenario, 49.2 in the low-immigration scenario, and 53.6 in the zero-immigration scenario.
  • Median age is currently higher for females, who tend to have longer life expectancies at birth compared to males, and this trend is projected to continue. In the middle series it is projected that in 2100, the median age for females will be 49.1 and the median age for males will be 46.8.
  • Projected median age in 2100 for females ranges from 47.7 in the high-immigration scenario to 54.8 in the zero-immigration scenario.
  • For males, the projected values in 2100 range from 45.4 in the high-immigration scenario to 52.5 in the zero-immigration scenario.

Race and Hispanic Origin

  • Non-Hispanic White alone was the most prevalent race or ethnic group in the United States in 2022 (58.9%), followed by Hispanic (19.1%) and non-Hispanic Black alone (12.6%). Although the share of the population in each of these groups is projected to change over time, these three groups are projected to remain the most prevalent through 2060 in all immigration scenarios.
  • In 2060, the non-Hispanic White alone population is projected to decline to 44.9% in the middle series, 42.7% in the high-immigration scenario, 46.6% in the low-immigration scenario, and to 50.7% in the zero-immigration scenario.
  • At the same time, the Hispanic population is projected to increase to 26.9% in the middle series in 2060, 27.8% in the high-immigration scenario, 26.2% in the low-immigration scenario, and to 24.6% in the zero-immigration scenario.
  • The non-Hispanic Black alone population is expected to remain at around 13% in 2060 in all of the immigration scenarios.

Nativity

  • The projected share of the population that is foreign-born is highly influenced by assumptions regarding international migration.
  • In 2022, 13.9% of the U.S. population was foreign-born. In the main series, this share is projected to increase to 19.5% in 2100, while the high-immigration scenario projects an increase to 24.4% and the low-immigration scenario projects an increase to 14.9%.
  • The zero-immigration scenario projects a decline in the share of the population that is foreign-born to 0.3% in 2100.

Background on the 2023 Projections Series

The 2023 National Population Projections provide estimates of the future U.S. population by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin and nativity through 2060 and by age, sex and nativity only through 2100. These projections supersede the 2017 series and are the first set of projections based on the 2020 Census.

Different levels of immigration between the present and 2100 could change the projection of the population in that year by as much as 209 million people, with the projected total population ranging anywhere from 226 to 435 million. Varying assumptions about immigration also impact the projected composition of the population, with higher levels of immigration resulting in a projected population that is younger and more racially and ethnically diverse.

The Census Bureau regularly updates its population projections as new data on the components of change (births, deaths and migration) become available.

For more information, view population projections or visit census.gov.

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