AMERICA 2050: Here's How The Country Will Look Three Decades From Now

america 2050A scene from Woody Allen’s Sleeper.

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When economists forecast the future, they have to consider one key variable: people.Using charts and info from Pew, the Census, and a Ph.D presentation put together by Elise Barrella & Sara Beck of Georgia Tech, we’ve found some interesting facts about what America will look like in a few decades.

The general trends: More Latino, older, and unfortunately, fatter.

These evolving demographic dynamics will have consequences on the economy, which we also address in this feature.

The Census says our population will jump another 100 million in just a few decades

Source: Census

How is that possible? The short answer is immigration

Immigrants will be coming into the U.S. at an increasing rate

Nearly a fifth of Americans will be foreign-born in 2050

The overall number of immigrants will have more than doubled by 2050, to 81 million

Immigrants will alter America's demographic geography and force major changes in infrastructure

But the real story is not new immigrants, but their children, who will be the main engine of growth. By 2050, there'll be more second generation Hispanics than first

http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/85.pdf

And the ratio of first-generation Asians to second and third ones will shrink 10 points

The Hispanic population will triple to 128 million

The Asian population will grow 192 per cent, to 41 million

The black population will grow by about 56%, to 59 million, but remain flat as an overall percentage

Oh and whites? They've basically flatlined

Here's the final racial tally, showing the surge in Asians and Hispanics, and a huge drop-off for white

The increasing diversity will create new issues for the economy

But immigration is only half the story. We're also going to be living longer.

The 65-and-older population will comprise nearly 20 per cent of the population

There will actually be more 61-year-olds than 51-year-olds. And look at all the 100-year-olds!

Our ageing population will cause tectonic shifts in the economy

In sum

These are cities whose economies become so interdependent that they form larger distinct entities

But again, people moving is only part of the story. There will also be more older people living in the same places

The growth of megaregions will have consequences for interstate commerce, especially for freight. In the Northeast, Boston-NYC-Philly rail traffic will grow at least 50 per cent

Rail traffic in the DC region will explode

Rail traffic from Chicago to the East will surge

San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas rail traffic will also surge

And the deep south, Atlanta's prominence as a trade hub will be further reinforced

But here's the thing: our dependency ratio — the proportion of nonworking to working people — is gonna surge

And it's not clear whether we'll be able to support them. Here is the baseline scenario

Obviously, most of the burden will come from elderly, not children

So there's another thing that's gonna happen...we're gonna get fatter

And this, not ageing, is what's going to cause medical costs to skyrocket

Looking further out, studies say the whole world will end up looking Brazilian

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