Paper argues that legal immigration levels should be increased to prevent the dire economic consequences of falling birth rates and a rapidly aging population

The U.S. population is aging at a high rate, and immigration policy can be used more strategically to offset the harmful socioeconomic consequences of this “societal restructuring.” This is the argument behind a study published by the National Immigration Forum. Using Census and other data, the report finds that nearly one in four Americans is projected to be 65 years or older by 2060, amounting to nearly twice today’s senior population. Additionally, whereas there were 6.4 working-age adults per adult of retirement age in 1965, that number today is just 3.5. Apart from the impact this imbalance has on the need for greater healthcare and human services, the report states that demographic aging is also likely to significantly reduce consumption, savings, public social expenditure, human capital and overall economic dynamism, driving a reduction in per-capita income for the country as a whole. The authors advocate for an immigration system that can respond to these changing trends, build a robust economy, and ensure a bright future for all Americans. They calculate that a 37 percent increase in net immigration  (approximately 370,000 additional immigrants a year) will help prevent the U.S. from falling into demographic deficit and socioeconomic decline. To bolster their argument and counter possible objections, the authors point to the U.S.’s long history of successfully integrating immigrants and, in a subsection entitled “Engaging Potential Criticisms,” note that recent polling shows that a majority of Americans believe immigration is “good for the country.” In order to address the demographic deficit, the authors recommend that Congress should pass legislation to increase immigration levels by at least one-third and should utilize demographic impact analyses in crafting immigration reform proposals. They also believe that both the public and private sectors should actively promote immigrant integration. (Denzil Mohammed for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute) 

Room to Grow: Setting Immigration Levels in a Changing America
National Immigration Forum, February 3, 2021
Authors: Ali Noorani & Danilo Zak