The District of Columbia’s population just surpassed 700,000 residents, and will likely continue to grow into the future. The Office of Planning is incorporating these population projections into its comprehensive plan for 2040, which is now being written.

DC has an obligation to plan for where its future citizens will live and work. Just thinking about this future has caused consternation among activists who dislike development. They instead think that the District’s plans should attempt to limit population growth. Experience elsewhere shows that denying that population growth is happening won’t make people magically go away, and instead harms both current and future residents.

Where are all these new people coming from?

Most of greater Washington’s new residents aren’t outsiders — indeed, they’re born here. In a typical year, more than half of metro population growth comes from what most of us call “childbirth,” but what demographers call “natural increase.” Every day in our region, about 100 more people are born than die, and as a result the region’s population grows by almost 50,000 people a year.