high immigration assumption, it will be 80.6 million. The proportion of older people in the total population will be smaller with higher immigration, however: there will be 27 older people for every 100 people aged 20 to 64 years in 2050 assuming high rates of immigration, compared with 30 assuming low rates of immigration.
Our demographic model also projects the racial and ethnic composition of the future population, divided into four mutually exclusive groups: non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians (American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts are excluded from presentation in the report, but are included in the analysis for the total population). In addition to the rates of immigration and levels of childbearing, these projections depend critically on two parameters—rates of intermarriage and racial/ethnic affiliation, which is the extent to which individuals of multipleancestry choose to identify with a given racial/ethnic group.
Under any immigration scenario, both the absolute and the relative sizes of the Asian-ancestry and Hispanic ancestry populations will grow rapidly. Assuming continued net immigration at current levels, the size of the Asian population will increase from 9 to 34 million in 2050 (growing from 3 to 8 percent of the population). This growth stems mainly from the large fraction of Asians in the immigrant population. Similarly, fueled by higher fertility, high rates of immigration, and high affiliation rates, the Hispanic population will grow substantially over this period. Assuming continued net immigration at current levels, and current rates of intermarriage and ethnic affiliation, the Hispanic population will rise from 27 million in 1995 (about 1 in 11 of the population) to 95 million in 2050 (about 1 in 4 of the population).
These projections incorporate the assumption that current levels of intermarriage will continue, and thus that the proportion of people with multiple-ancestry will increase. Multiple-ancestry adds complexity and ambiguity to ethnic definitions, and it is possible that, by the middle of the next century, ethnic and racial lines will be even more blurred.
The second charge to the panel concerned the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy. Economic theory points to possible effects on the employment and wages of domestic workers, U.S. trade with other countries, the growth rate of the economy, and the prices people pay for goods and services. To address these issues, the panel relied both on theoretical insights on what the likely effects would be, and on empirical estimates of the magnitude of the actual effects.
Using a basic economic model, with plausible assumptions, we show that immigration produces net economic gains for domestic residents, for several reasons. At the most basic level, immigrants increase the supply of labor and help produce new goods and services. But since they are paid less than the total value of these new goods and services, domestic workers as a group must gain.