Similarly, high school enrollments for grades 9 to 12 were 14.0 million in 1995. These enrollments would increase to 20.3 million under medium net immigration—with a range of about 2.5 million more or less under low and high immigration assumptions.31

In light of the geographic concentration of immigrants, it is important to remember that not all school districts will be affected equally by immigration. In fact, most school districts in this country will feel no consequences, no matter what happens with immigration.32 Other districts, especially those in the urban areas of the large immigration states, will be keenly sensitive to any changes in immigration policy.

Young Adults

Young adults, aged 15 to 24 years, are a crucial component of the population, given their unique economic role and place in the economy. These young adults are part of a special transition group who move on to postsecondary education, enter the labor force, and experience the highest rate of unemployment. They also are the ones who consider forming a household, getting married, and starting a family. They acquire the right to vote and are a critical recruitment pool for the Armed Forces. After peaking in the early 1980s, the numbers in this group have begun to increase again in the 1990s. Young adults numbered 35.9 million in 1995. Under the medium immigration assumption, that number will expand to over 42 million by 2020, and to almost 51 million by 2050.

With low net immigration, the young adult population will increase more slowly, from 35.9 million in 1995 to 44.7 million in 2050. Therefore, cutting immigration flows in half, a sharp departure from historical immigration policy, results in a young adult population that is 25 percent smaller 53 years from now then it would have been with continued current immigration levels. Under the high net immigration assumption, growth will be at a faster pace, with the young adult population reaching 56.6 million in 2050.33 The next chapter discusses the implications of such a change on the labor market outcomes of native-born workers.

The implications of these changes for college enrollments can be derived


Under the zero net immigration assumption, school enrollment in grades 9 to 12 in 2050 will still be greater than in 1995, increasing to 15.1 million. Under the very high net immigration assumption, the 9 to 12 grade enrollment will increase to 25.3 million.


Most school districts have relatively few foreign-born students because recent immigration is concentrated in a few states, usually in metropolitan areas. Although the regional and state concentration of immigration may shift in future years, it is still likely that most school districts will receive few immigrant students.


Under the zero immigration assumption, the young adult population will increase to 38.0 million in 2050. Under the very high immigration assumption, growth will be steady, to 62.3 million in 2050.

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