There are roughly 150 million adults around the world that want to become Americans according to Gallup.
I think this is worth pointing out, because the annual Social Security Trust Fund report should be released today. As a result there will likely be much hyperventilating about how the Social Security trust fund is projected to run out of money in roughly 25 years, even though continuing payroll taxes would still be able to fund a high level of Social Security payments given current assumptions.
While the Administrators try hard to make their projections accurate, any very long term projections are inherently going to be somewhat unreliable. Trying to guess how many working Americans there will be and their average incomes in the year 2030 is basically impossible.
While current demographic trends point in one direction, it is completely possible that at some time in the next decade we could adopt policies that would increase the number of working Americans — and the collection of payroll taxes to support Social Security — well above current assumptions.
For example given the huge international pool of people who want to become Americans, even modest changes in our immigration policy spread over multiple years could grow our working population and add many years of solvency to the Social Security trust fund. The country could also adopt policies that affect birth rates, like mandatory paternity leave. We could adopt criminal justice reforms that result in significantly less American adults in prison and more of them working. New governments policies or economic conditions could even reduce income inequality and increase on average how much each worker contributes to Social Security. We could even pursue full employment policies. These policies would likely be adopted for reasons completely unrelated to Social Security, but they could still significantly impact it.
Almost all the talk about the Social Security report will probably be about how we need to cut benefits or change the retirement age, or to a lesser extent how we need to raise taxes to prevent an issue that might possibly emerge in 25 years. The reality though is that we shouldn’t put much stock in long term projections that are inherently inaccurate. Any future issue affecting Social Security could also be addressed by adopting polices that simply increase wages or the number of young working Americans who pay payroll taxes.