, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 639–652 | Cite as

Alternative Projections of the U.S. population

  • Dennis A. Ahlburg
  • James W. Vaupel
Commentary and Commentary


The U. S. Bureau of the Census recently released a set of population projections that include middle and high projections that we argue are too conservative. The projections discount the possibility of future baby booms and assume slow rates of mortality decline and low levels of immigration. In this article we explore the impact on the size and age composition of the U. S. population of alternative scenarios of plausible fertility, mortality, and immigration assumptions. We conclude that (I) the Census Bureau’s highest projection might be interpreted as a reasonable middle projection, (2) a reasonable high projection would yield a U.S. population in 2080 some 300 million persons larger than the Bureau’s highest projection, with the population 85 and older more than twice the Bureau’s greatest estimate, and (3) uncertainty about the pace of population growth is substantially greater than the Bureau’s projections suggest.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis A. Ahlburg
    • 1
  • James W. Vaupel
    • 2
  1. 1.Industrial Relations Center and Center for Population Analysis and PolicyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis
  2. 2.Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and Center for Population Analysis and PolicyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis

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