The USA is turning gray – but that’s no reason to be sad and blue.
The Census Bureau reports that more than 54 million Americans are officially “seniors” – that is, over 65 years old – the highest figure in U.S. history. Seniors now comprise nearly 17% of the U.S. population, also a historic high. With about 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, the elderly share of the population is predicted to pass 20% before the end of this decade.
The aging of our population reflects two trends that seem unlikely to change: older Americans are living longer, and young people are having fewer babies. Accordingly, the Census Bureau predicts that in the 2030s there will be more Americans over 65 than under 18 – another first in our demographic history.
Economists and politicians routinely deplore these trends. With more retired seniors receiving benefits and fewer taxpaying workers to pay for them, programs like Social Security and Medicare face serious fiscal challenges. Businesses that rely on growing young families to increase sales fear a dearth of future consumers.