U.S. population could increase from 323 million in 2016 to as high as 447 million by 2060—or fall as low as 320 million. It depends on how many immigrants are admitted over the next four decades, according to new report from the Census Bureau.
The report sketches out four scenarios for 2060. If current levels of immigration are maintained, the U.S. population will grow to 404 million by 2060. If immigration is cut in half, the population will rise to 376 million. If immigration increases by 50 percent, the population expands to 447 million. And if all immigration were to be halted now, the U.S. population would peak at around 332 million in 2035 and drop to 320 million in 2060.
In the high-immigration scenario, the proportion of foreign-born residents would rise by 2060 to 21.6 percent of the population. If immigration is halted, the forecast shows only 4.6 percent of the population in 2060 being foreign-born.
In all of the scenarios, the median age of the U.S. population rises from 37.9 to more than 40.
The report projects that the number of people identifying as "white alone"—that is, respondents who check only the white ethnicity box on census forms—will continue to rise in the main, high, and low immigration scenarios. This increase results from the Census Bureau's expectation that the children of Hispanic immigrants will probably, like the children of Italian, Polish, Greek, and other earlier immigrant groups, choose to identify increasingly as white. But the share of the population in the white alone category will decline in each scenario, due to faster increases in the numbers of Americans in the other racial and ethnic groups.
It remains my hope and belief that Americans of whatever ancestry living in 2060 will look back and wonder why anyone ever cared about the ethnic makeup of the American population. America is an ideal, not a tribe.