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Age 65+ Adults Are Projected to Outnumber Children by 2030

All boomers and 1 in 5 U.S. residents will have reached ‘retirement age’

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As the population ages, the ratio of 65-plus residents to working-age adults is expected to rise.
Aldo Murillo/Getty Images

By 2030, the United States for the first time will have more 65-and-older residents than children, the Census Bureau projected this week. All boomers and one-fifth of the total population will have reached the traditional retirement age of 65.

The agency’s projection marks a milestone for an aging society, and it reflects the ongoing impact of the giant boomer generation born in the aftermath of World War II.

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“The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” said Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the Census Bureau. “By 2035, there will be 78 million people 65 years and older, compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18.”

The 2030s will be “transformative,” the agency projects. It points to an older population that grows at a slower pace and is more racially diverse. Immigration will be the main driver of population growth in 2030, another first in U.S. history, as a rising number of deaths offset births.

As the population ages, the ratio of 65-plus residents to working-age adults is expected to rise. In 2020, the U.S. will have about 3 1/2 working-age adults for every retirement-age person. By 2060, the ratio will decline to just 2 1/2 working-age adults for every retirement-age person.

Other projections:

  • The median age is expected to rise from 38 today to 43 by 2060.
  • The population will gradually grow at a slower pace, by an average of 2.3 million a year until 2030, by 1.8 million a year between 2030 and 2040, and by 1.5 million a year from 2040 to 2060.
  • By 2060, the U.S. population will grow by 78 million, from about 326 million today to 404 million.

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