Immigration’s Contribution to Population Growth and Economic Vitality

Madeline Zavodny
Date of Publication: 
February, 2021
Source Organization: 
National Foundation for American Policy

Immigration has been a major contributor to U.S. population growth and economic growth for most of the last 50 years. However, this study calls attention to the fact that international migration – the number of people moving to the United States minus the number moving abroad – declined precipitously between 2016 and 2019.The drop in international migration, combined with falling birth rates, resulted in what may have been the slowest decade of population growth in U.S. history – and does not include the additional decline between 2019 and 2020 connected to Covid-19. Although international migration added to the rural U.S. population during the 2010s, it was not enough to prevent most rural counties from shrinking during the 2010s. Almost three-quarters of rural counties had fewer residents in 2019 than in 2010. Without immigration, the losses might have been even more devastating. Migration is also strongly related to employment growth in both rural and metro counties. Each additional international migrant is associated with an additional 1.2 jobs in rural counties over the period from 2010 to 2018, and an additional 0.9 jobs in metro counties. Immigrants seem to stimulate domestic job creation because they tend to work in jobs dissimilar to those held by native-born people, especially in rural areas. The author concludes by stating that immigration is “paramount to population growth in rural areas…while supporting population growth and economic vitality across the United States.”

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Madeline Zavodny (2021, February). Immigration’s Contribution to Population Growth and Economic Vitality. National Foundation for American Policy