A recent white paper commissioned by FWD.us finds that for the United States to retain its position as the world’s largest economy, and to ensure the solvency of programs such as Social Security, the nation must increase its levels of immigration, not reduce or even maintain current levels.
As the report’s executive summary notes,
(t)oday’s low fertility rates and ongoing population aging cast a shadow over America’s future. As a result of these trends, our projections show that grave demographic and economic consequences will follow from more restrictive immigration policies. However, even the maintenance of current levels of immigration would weaken American prospects for strong economic growth and fiscal balance in the medium and long term. It is only through increased immigration that the United States can achieve a sustainable working–age population, economic growth, and a solvent Social Security system.
A synthesis of the report distills its findings. Among them,
(i)f the U.S. working-age-to-senior ratio is not maintained, economic growth will slow compared with other nations, draining our social safety nets and sacrificing our current position as the world’s economic leader. In fact, if current U.S. population trends continue, the U.S. economy will fall behind China’s by 2030, and be only three-quarters of China’s economy by 2050.
To offset the ratio of working age adults to those who have or will be retiring from the workforce, the report shows that it will not suffice to simply maintain immigration rates at 2018 levels (immigration levels declined substantially in 2019 and 2020 due to Trump administration policies and the pandemic response). Instead,
(p)rojections show that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) could double and grow as large as $47 trillion in today’s dollars in 2050 if immigration levels were doubled to more than 2 million new permanent and temporary immigrants each year. Per capita, this would lead to a 3% increase in average income by 2050 for all Americans compared with keeping immigration at recent levels.