The general trend in our modeling is clear: the more immigrants, the merrier.
In short, if immigration remained at near-zero levels, within decades, the country could be older, smaller and poorer. But if the US government welcomed more newcomers, within decades, the country could be younger, more productive and richer.
However, this research demonstrates that more immigration is in the best interests of national survival. We should think of immigration policy not just as a humanitarian obligation or a legacy of our past, but actually as a way to secure the country’s future.
Welcoming newcomers is as pro-America as it gets.
According to our research, by 2060, the share of the population between 18 and 65 — working-age — is projected to be nearly 62% in the scenario that doubles the current annual number of immigrant admissions. If immigration is cut to zero, it would be less than 56%. While this difference may seem small, it significantly affects the balance between workers and the elderly — who are less likely to work or contribute to the tax base, and more likely to draw on government benefits and services. Where there were only 25 elderly persons per 100 working-age people in 2018, by 2060, we can expect nearly 50 elderly persons per 100 working-age people in the case of zero net migration, but only 30 in the scenario involving doubled admissions.
The zero-immigration scenario predicts real GDP of only $32 trillion by 2060, more than 27% lower than if recent trends were to continue. Were Congress to maintain the current mix of visas but double annual admissions, the US would increase economic growth by over 40% relative to the scenario that extends 2018 baseline trends.
Meanwhile, increased immigration is one way to sustain current expenses associated with Social Security payments. In 2018, Social Security payments accounted for about a quarter of all federal spending, and this share would stay the same if immigration admissions were doubled. However, if current trends were to continue, this share would rise to about 31% in 2060. And if immigration were cut to zero, Social Security payments would eventually consume 35% of the federal budget — squeezing other federal programs.
This puts the desperation of asylum seekers at the US southern border into a new perspective. No doubt, the US needs an orderly system of migration management. But the young and industrious newcomers yearning to stabilize their lives and secure their survival are actually critical to our nation’s survival, too.