Population Projections

The population projections reported in this chapter take the 1995 U.S. population and calculate future growth by making assumptions about the level of births, deaths, and net immigration. The initial 1995 population is characterized by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and immigrant generation—whether the person is of the first generation (foreign-born) or is its descendant.

We examine four racial or ethnic groups of primary affiliation: Asian and Pacific Islander (taken together and referred to as Asian in this chapter), black, Hispanic, and white.3 In federal government statistics, Hispanic status is defined for purposes of establishing a Hispanic population, which may be reported in any of the four races. In practice, the Hispanic population mainly reports itself as either white or "other" race (the latter includes individuals who do not check a specific, listed race but write in such responses as "Mexican"). The official current classification is based on an arbitrary separation of race and ethnicity, defining Asians, blacks, and whites as "races'' and not ethnic groups. We refer to the four groups broadly as ethnic groups in this chapter.

The main implication of the official classification system is that population projections for the Hispanic population overlap with the overall projections for the main race groups in official government projections. For the projections presented here, we calculate a base population in which the white, black, and Asian groups do not include any Hispanic component.4 This avoids a double-counting of Hispanic persons.

We rely on a population projection model that makes assumptions about several parameters: immigration and emigration; mortality, fertility, and exogamy; and ethnic attribution. In the next sections, we set out the model we used to make our projections and the demographic assumptions that underlie them. For a technical, detailed description of the model and additional information about the assumptions used in the projection model, see Appendixes 3.A and 3.B, respectively.


Government statistics include Native Americans as a fifth racial group. The size of this group is relatively small and, because immigrants include few Native Americans, we have excluded them from presentation in this report. Data for the total population, however, includes separate estimates for the three Native American groups—American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts.


One needs to remember that the Asian and Hispanic populations are very diverse. In addition, white and black populations are diverse and represent different ethnic origins. Immigrants may report themselves with a primary racial or Hispanic affiliation, but they include persons from many quite distinct countries. Some Asian and Hispanic ethnic groups, of different origins and cultures, have variations in fertility and mortality levels, as well as in propensities for emigration. For example, the Asian population includes immigrants from China, Korea, India, Vietnam, and Japan, among others, and the Hispanic population includes immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Chile, and many other countries. These within-group differences may be as important as the across group differences we model in this volume. We do not, however, attempt to model these within-group demographic differences in this report.

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