A young, diverse population is a more dynamic population. The aging U.S. population and the current U.S. birth rate make it clear that immigration will be a critical part of revitalizing the American workforce. Recent immigrants are, in general, younger than the rest of the population. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that roughly 80 percent of immigrants in 2010 were of “working age”–between 18 to 64 years old–compared to only 60 percent of the native-born population. This discrepancy will only increase as Baby Boomers retire at a rate of 10,000 per day.
The current ratio of American workers to seniors is 5 to 1. Twenty years from now, it is projected to shrink to 3 to 1, as Baby Boomers continue to retire and there are fewer young Americans entering the workforce to replace them. Immigration helps ease this burden, since, among immigrants, the ratio of workers to seniors is 28 to 1, allowing immigrants to infuse the American workforce with a growing labor force across the economy that provides tax revenues to support current and future social services. In one specific example, a study in Health Affairs showed that from 2002 to 2009, immigrants contributed a total surplus of $115.2 billion to Medicare. One needs only to consider the example of Japan to see the risks posed by an aging population with fewer workers and a closed immigration system. Once a powerful global economic power, Japan is now struggling to manage a small labor force, a growing elderly population and a mounting national debt. For America to keep its workforce young and its economy vibrant, it must fix its broken immigration system and institute policies to attract and retain young, hard-working talent from around the world.
Learn more about the impact of immigration on the country’s demographics below.