Jun 27, 2020 - Health

Population of Americans over 65 expands rapidly as baby boomers age

elderly residents walks inside a deserted hallway at the John Knox Village, a retirement community
Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 54 million Americans have reached traditional retirement age, 65 years and older, in the U.S. — a 34% jump over the past decade, per 2019 Census Bureau population estimates cited by Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The older population is expanding at a faster rate than that of children and working-age Americans, driven by the aging of Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. This means the country's dependency ratio has grown, Bloomberg notes, wherein federal, state and local governments are likely to feel the strain of older Americans' reliance on government services.

  • “And this is going to cause higher taxes," University of Michigan economic Richard Curtin told Bloomberg. "That represents a significant draw on consumers’ budgets.”

Of note: "...the under-18 population was smaller in 2019 than it was in 2010, in part due to lower fertility in the United States," Luke Rogers, chief of the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Branch said.

The state of play:

  • North Dakota is the only state across the U.S. to see an overall decline in its median age, which dropped from 37 in 2010 to 35.3 in 2019.
  • Nearly 13 million Americans are 80 and older.
  • The dependency ratio for 2019 shows there are 54 Americans in need of support for every 100 people of working age.
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