The Future of Texas: Bigger, Older, More Urban and More Diverse

New Study by UH Hobby School Finds State in the Midst of a Major Shift

Hobby study graphics

Texas will remain one of the nation’s fastest-growing states, becoming home to  a larger, older and far more ethnically diverse population over the next 33 years, even if migration from other states and countries slows dramatically, according to the latest projections from the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs.

The ratio of working age residents to those over 65 could drop by one-third, suggesting a strain on health care and other services for the aging. The Austin metro area may overtake San Antonio as the state’s third most populous by 2040.

The Houston metro area could reach 14.2 million people by 2050. In Houston, as virtually everywhere else in the state, the growth of the minority population will exceed that of the Anglo population. Almost 84 percent of people in the Houston metropolitan area will be members of a minority racial or ethnic group by 2050, according to one estimate, up from 60 percent in 2010.

“Texas will continue to grow, even if the flow of people from other states and countries slows,” said Jim Granato, executive director of the Hobby School. “But the population will also become older, and the Hispanic population, especially, is expected to grow dramatically.”

The findings are consistent with other demographic studies, making the message clear, Granato said.  The looming changes should guide policymakers, businesses and nonprofit organizations as they prepare for the Texas of the future.

The report, “Projections of the Population of Texas and Counties in Texas by Age, Sex, and Race/Ethnicity from 2010 to 2050,” provides projections on future demographic characteristics of the state’s population, broken down by county, metro area and region.

The projections are based on three assumptions – immigration will continue at levels recorded 2000-2010; immigration will be reduced by half, and immigration into the state will be balanced by the number of people leaving, for net-zero immigration.

Hobby researcher Nazrul Hoque, who produced the report, said true growth is likely to fall between the highest assumption – which would put the Texas population at 54.4 million by 2050, up from 27.8 million in 2016 – and the middle assumption, which projects a population of 40.5 million in 2050. Immigration from other countries and other states slowed significantly during the 2008 recession, and international immigration remains slow.

Each scenario follows the same basic storyline: Texas will continue to grow, its population will age and the Hispanic population will boom.

Among the findings:

  • Three out of every four Texans will live in one of the state’s metro areas by 2050. Dallas-Fort Worth will remain the largest under each scenario, followed by Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land. The Austin metro area overtakes San Antonio for third place if immigration remains high.
  • Under the high immigration scenario, the proportion of population 65 years of age or older will increase from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 17.4 percent in 2050.
  • Thirty-six counties, scattered across the Panhandle, west and east Texas, are projected to lose population. But even there, as in other rural counties, the population will become more diverse.

 “Texas will keep growing, but to maintain our growth, Texas policymakers need to be aware of what’s coming,” Hoque said. Health care clearly will become an even more important industry in Texas, he said, requiring not just more doctors, nurses and other practitioners but a healthcare workforce that can communicate in the languages spoken by the population they serve.



The full report is available on the Hobby School website.