In CBO’s projections, the size of the U.S. population increases from 335 million people in 2022 to 369 million people in 2052. Population growth is increasingly driven by net immigration, which accounts for all population growth in 2043 and beyond.
The size of the U.S. population and its age and sex composition affect federal spending, revenues, deficits, debt, and the economy. In this report, the Congressional Budget Office describes its population projections that underlie the baseline budget projections and economic forecast that CBO published in May 2022 and the long-term budget projections that the agency published in July 2022.
In CBO’s projections, the population increases from 335 million people in 2022 to 369 million people in 2052, expanding by 0.3 percent per year, on average. (In this report, population refers to the Social Security area population—the relevant population for the calculation of Social Security payroll taxes and benefits. See Notes and Definitions for more details.) The population is also projected to become older, on average, as growth in the number of people age 65 or older outpaces that of younger age groups.
Components of Population Growth
Population growth is projected to slow over the next 30 years. As fertility rates remain below the replacement rate (the fertility rate required for a generation to exactly replace itself in the absence of immigration), population growth is increasingly driven by net immigration flows.
Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population
The civilian noninstitutionalized population grows, in CBO’s projections, from 264 million people in 2022 to 298 million people in 2052. (This measure of the population includes only people age 16 or older. The agency uses it to project the size of the labor force.) The prime working age population (ages 25 to 54) grows at an average annual rate of 0.2 percent over that period, slower than its average over the 1980–2021 period (1.0 percent).
Changes Since Last Year
In CBO’s current projections, the population is smaller and grows more slowly, on average, than CBO projected last year. Fertility rates are expected to be lower than the agency projected last year, reducing the size and growth of the population that is under 24 years old over the 30-year projection period. In addition, as a result of new information about the effects of COVID-19, CBO increased projected mortality rates for people age 65 or older, on average, in the first two decades of the projection period.
CBO’s projections are subject to uncertainty in the rates of fertility, mortality, and net immigration. Small differences between CBO’s projections and actual outcomes for those rates could compound over many years and significantly affect outcomes by the end of the projection period.