Can Our U.S. Population Keep On Growing Forever?

Can Our U.S. Population Keep On Growing Forever?

No, it cannot.  It is obviously not possible for our U.S. population to keep growing indefinitely.  But we can, and do, pretend that it can, and, most unfortunately, our national immigration policy is based on that mistaken belief.  But pretending does not make it so.

Mass immigration and the higher fertility of immigrants are the driving forces behind the growth of our already vastly overpopulated country in terms of the long range carrying capacity of its environment and resources.  Our population, now 317 million, is projected by the Census Bureau to reach a mind boggling 400 million by mid-century, a catastrophic increase of 83 million more people in less than 40 years.  That figure is larger than the combined current populations of California, Florida, and New York!

Furthermore, immigration increases now favored by both political parties, if enacted, would increase the projected 400 million at mid-century by as much as ten percent. 

As far as we can determine, such projected increases in the size of our already vastly overpopulated country are of absolutely no concern to our policy makers, our major environmental organizations, and either of our two major political parties.

The fact is that in our finite universe, no material growth – including both population and economic growth – can long continue.  Yet the clearly mistaken belief that immigration-driven population and economic growth can continue indefinitely, without any limit, underlies our national immigration policy.

This mentality is apparent from the following quotes taken from “The Economics of Commonsense Immigration Reform from the Economic Report of the President, 2013.”  These reports are attributed to the President’s Council of Economic Advisors:

“We are a nation of immigrants and their descendants.  Now, more than ever, the economic and social benefits of immigration loom large.  U.S. population growth is projected to fall almost in half over the next three decades, with the growth in the working-age population falling even further…  Immigrants increase the size of the population and thus of the labor force and customer base, making an important contribution to economic growth.

“…Common sense immigration reform can honor America’s historical legacy of welcoming those willing to work hard for a better life, while also promoting its national and economic interests.

“…Immigrants add to the labor force and increase the economy’s total output.

“…With slowing population growth and aging of the workforce, America needs more workers.”

What do these excerpts show?  They reveal a deep-seated belief that economic growth is necessary for our well-being, and that population growth is required for economic growth to continue at the desired pace.  That belief is a perfect recipe for environmental and economic disaster in the not-so-long run.

It is worth noting here that although proponents of mass immigration warn that our population is aging, the number of immigrants over 55 is considerable, largely due to our emphasis on family reunification for overseas parents of adult U.S. citizens.

Our national immigration policy calls for a constant infusion of young immigrants so that our labor force can continue to grow, thus feeding the growth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and increasing the size of our population.  The growth of both of these, GDP and total population, is wrongly considered to be essential to our national and individual well-being.

Even young immigrants, however, eventually grow old and retire, and must be replaced by another generation of young immigrants, in a never-ending cycle.  What we have, therefore, is the perfect system for the endless growth of our population, which, as we know, and our policy makers must begin to recognize, needs urgently to be halted and then reversed as soon as possible.

NPG favors removal of immigration as the driving force behind our disastrous population growth with a policy of zero net migration:  limiting immigrant entries to the number of residents emigrating – right now about 200,000 per year.  Prompt adoption of such a limit, combined with the current preference of Americans for sub-replacement fertility, now at 1.9, would allow U.S. population to stabilize in the decade of the 2040s at about 325 million, and then begin a gradual decline toward a level that would be sustainable indefinitely.

The standard arguments that technological advances will save us from pollution and resource exhaustion ring hollow.  Pollution of our atmosphere and waters has reached dangerous levels with no technological solution in sight.  Most investment in technology now goes into developing machines and procedures that will increase the pace of resource depletion.

Our present immigration policy, both legislated and implicit, is ideally designed to produce  perpetual population growth, which can only result eventually in the destruction of our standard of living, the quality of our lives, and that of our descendants, together with our  resources and environment.

At present our total economy is far too large, and therefore consumes far too many resources, and emits far too much waste and pollution, to be sustainable for the very long term.  We urgently need to begin the transition to a far smaller population so that we can preserve our environment, economy and overall quality of life both for ourselves and for future generations.


Donald Mann

President of Negative Population Growth, a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to educating Americans about the devastating effects of overpopulation on our environment and quality of life.
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