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The workforce in the U.S. is graying but there’s an antidote: immigration.

Immigrants keep the population growing, boost the economy and help fund federal programs like Social Security and Medicare, according to a report released on Thursday by Bipartisan Policy Center, a non-profit organization.

The country faces the same pressures as other developed nations around the world. The workforce is getting older, meaning that future workers will need to support an increasingly larger pool of retirees.

Just look how global fertility rates have fallen off since the 1950s:

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Credit: Bipartisan Policy Center

Immigrants bring a jolt of youth to the workforce, however. There are a couple reasons for that.

First, they tend to be younger than their native-born counterparts. From 2003 to 2012, only 5.1 percent of immigrants were 65 or older, compared with 13.3 percent of the U.S-born population, the report found.

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Second, they’re more likely to have children than native-born Americans. In 2010, immigrants gave birth at a rate 50 percent higher than the native born.

That’s keeping the U.S. workforce from aging as fast as some other comparable countries. Check out the fertility rate in comparison to other developed nations:

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Credit: Bipartisan Policy Center

This younger workforce means more support for retirees. The Bipartisan Policy Center shows this through something called the “old age support ratio,” which is basically the number of people 65 or over for every 100 people in the workforce. The outlook for the U.S. is good:

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Credit: Bipartisan Policy Center

When it comes to Medicare, immigrants added about $14 billion to the trust each year between 2002 and 2009. The report shows that the impact on Social Security wouldn’t be dramatic, but that higher levels of immigration could lengthen the window before the fund is projected to run out.

In a big-picture sense, immigration is good for the economy. They add more workers and output, increasing the gross domestic product (GDP).

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Of course, there are downsides. Some researchers have found that immigration can negatively impact black, native-born workers without a college education, for example. But overall, immigrants create jobs and economic activity.

The view of immigration as an economic driver isn’t exclusive to one political party, either.

At the report rollout on Thursday, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who both served under President George W. Bush, shared the stage with Henry Cisneros, who was Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton. All three spoke of the need for higher levels of immigration to keep the U.S. competitive and secure.

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The takeaway: We need a well-functioning immigration system (the one now doesn't work so well) that can keep the U.S. population — and economy — growing into the next century.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.