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Release Number CB14-84

The nation's 65-and-older population is projected to reach 83.7 million in the year 2050, almost double in size from the 2012 level of 43.1 million, according to two reports released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. A large part of this growth is due to the aging of baby boomers (individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964), who began turning 65 in 2011 and are now driving growth at the older ages of the population.

The first new report, An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States, looks at the demographic changes to the 65-and-older population that will comprise 21 percent of the U.S. population in 2050 and the impact that these changes will have on the composition of the total population. A second report, The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060, focuses on the shifting size and structure of the baby boom population. These briefs use data from the 2012 national projections of the U.S. population.

"The United States is projected to age significantly over this period, with 20 percent of its population age 65 and over by 2030," said Jennifer Ortman, chief of the Census Bureau's Population Projections Branch. "Changes in the age structure of the U.S. population will have implications for health care services and providers, national and local policymakers, and businesses seeking to anticipate the influence that this population may have on their services, family structure and the American landscape."

Census Bureau statistics have already shown growth in health care-related industries. In 2011, the Census Bureau's County Business Patterns statistics showed the health care and social assistance sector as one of the largest in the U.S. with about 819,000 establishments. This sector includes home and health care services, community care facilities for the older population, and continuing care retirement communities, which all showed an increase of 20 percent or more in their number of employees between 2007 and 2011. New 2012 County Business Patterns statistics will be available by the end of May.

In addition, the Census Bureau's recent release of population estimates showed The Villages, Fla. — home to a large retirement community — was the nation's fastest growing metro area from 2012 to 2013.

Older Population Growing More Diverse

Although the older population is not as racially and ethnically diverse as the younger population, it is projected to experience a substantial increase in diversity over the next four decades.

  • The 65-and-older population is projected to be 39.1 percent minority in 2050, up from 20.7 percent in 2012
  • The 85-and-older population is projected to be 29.7 percent minority in 2050, up from 16.3 percent in 2012

Other findings include:

  • In 2012, there were 22 people 65 and older for every 100 working-age people in the U.S. By comparison, in 2030, there will be 35 people 65 and older for every 100 working-age people. This means there will be approximately three working-age people for every person 65 and older.
  • After 2030, the number of people 65 and older for every 100 working-age people in the U.S continues to increase slightly to 36 by 2050.
  • The proportion of the total population 65 and older is projected to increase in all developed countries between 2012 and 2030.Although the United States is projected to age over this period, it will remain one of the younger developed countries with only 20 percent of its population 65 and over in 2030.

Baby Boomers

The majority of the growth in the 65-and-older population is projected to occur between 2012 and 2030 as the baby boomers enter the older age group.

  • When the first of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, there were just under 77 million people in the baby boom ages.
  • The baby boom population is projected to drop to 60 million by 2030 and to only 2.4 million by 2060.
  • By 2060, the youngest baby boomers will be 96 years old.
  • In 2012, baby boomers comprised 24.3 percent of the U.S. population.
  • As baby boomers age, their share of the population is projected to decrease to 16.7 percent in 2030 and 3.9 percent in 2050.

Although the baby boom population will decline in the coming decades through mortality, trends in fertility, mortality, and international migration will sustain the proportion of the population in the older ages within the U.S. Declines in births will lead to slower growth at the youngest ages, while decreases in mortality rates result in longer life expectancies and increases in the number of people living longer, resulting in growth of the 65-and-older population.

About the 2012 National Population Projections

The Population Projections Program produces projections of the U.S. resident population by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin for July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2060. The 2012 national projections are based on the 2010 Census and official estimates for July 1, 2011. The projections were produced using a cohort-component method and are based on assumptions about future births, deaths and net international migration. These reports include projected data for 2013 to 2060, with the Census Bureau's official population estimates used for 2012. When both estimates and projections are available, as is the case for 2012, estimates are the preferred data.



Merarys Ríos
Public Information Office

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