Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, has interesting things to say about immigration, population growth and the future of the U. S. economy and position in the world. On Sunday, The Dallas Morning News published an essay "adapted" from his new book. Here's a taste of it.
Estimates of the U.S. population at the middle of the 21st century vary, from the U.N.’s 404 million to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 422 to 458 million. To develop a snapshot of the nation at 2050, particularly its astonishing diversity and youthfulness, I use the nice round number of 400 million people, or roughly 100 million more than we have today.
The United States is also expected to grow somewhat older. The portion of the population that is currently at least 65 — 13 percent — is expected to reach about 20 percent by 2050. This “graying of America” has helped convince some commentators of the nation’s declining eminence. For example, international relations expert Parag Khanna envisions a “shrunken America” lucky to eke out a meager existence between a “triumphant China” and a “retooled Europe.” Morris Berman, a cultural historian, says America “is running on empty.”
Immigration will continue to be a major force in U.S. life. The United Nations estimates that 2 million people a year will move from poorer to developed nations over the next 40 years, and more than half of those will come to the United States, the world’s preferred destination for educated, skilled migrants. In 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an association of 30 democratic, free-market countries, the United States was home to 12.5 million skilled immigrants, equaling the combined total for Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Japan.
If recent trends continue, immigrants will play a leading role in our future economy. Between 1990 and 2005, immigrants started one out of four venture-backed public companies. Large American firms are also increasingly led by people with roots in foreign countries, including 15 of the Fortune 100 CEOs in 2007.
For all these reasons, the United States of 2050 will look different from that of today: Whites will no longer be in the majority. The U.S. minority population, currently 30 percent, is expected to exceed 50 percent before 2050. No other advanced, populous country will see such diversity.
To read the entire essay click here.