The United States is on the eve of sunstantial shifts in the racial/ethnic composition of the population. These changes will occur as a response to new patterns of immigration that have evolved during the last thirty years. Current immigrants are predominantly Asian and Hispanic, with some Black imigrants from Caribbean and Africa and some White immigrants from Canada, Europe, and Oceania. Present immigrants are different from the overwhelmingly European movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This paper assesses assumptions for official U.S. population projections. The paper also presents overall results for a population projection of the racial/ethnic groups of the United States for 1990 to 2090. With annual net immigration of 900,000 to 950,000, the total U.S. population of 249 million in 1990 will top 400 million in 2070 and reach about 432 million in 2090. Thus, the current level of net immigration assumed in these projections suggests considerable population growth for the next hundred years.
The racial/ethnic composition will shift markedly during the next century. Assuming the population conditions of the projection, the White non-Hispanic population will increase its numbers from 187 million in 1990 to a peak 212 million in 2030 before falling slowing to about 209 million by 2090. This group will become less numerous and drom from 75 percent of the total population to less than 50 percent in 2090.
Over the next century, the Black population will increase from 30 million to 54 million, but will remain virtually unchanged proportionately, increasing from 12 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2090.
Asians and Hispanics will experience substantial growth during the next century. The Asians population will grow from 7 million in 1990 to 60 million in 2090, increasing its proportionate share from 3 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2090. Hispanics will increase from 22 million in 1990 to 108 million in 2090, a gain from 9 to 25 percent in the period. Both Asians and Hispanics would be larger groups than Blacks by 2090, although the Hispanic population will be a larger numerical group than Blacks by about 2010.
The convergence of several demographic forces -- lowered birth rates, increased life expectancy, the aging of the post-war baby boom generation, and changing immigration -- has been producing a marked shift in the growth rates, age characteristics, and racial/ethnic composition of the U.S. population in recent decades. These demographic developments are an important source of change for social programs, including our nation's social welfare and pension programs. Greater number of elderly beneficiaries and reduced numbers of working age contributors will cause an imbalance in our public pension programs in the next 20 to 30 years, when the baby boom cohorts reach retirement age. Such demographic problems, however, are quite separate from shortfalls in public pension trust funds that stem from economic conditions. Demographic arithmetic