The United States is growing both in size and age, as shown in our recently released population projections for each decade till 2040. My last post was more about the growth in population across the states and identifying commonalities over the projected time horizon. But as we focus our lens on the future, no matter how we examine the numbers, aging seems to be a fundamental underlying theme. By 2020, one in six people, or more than 16% of the population, will be above 65 years of age. The share of older Americans is expected to keep rising to nearly 20% by 2030.
Much of the growth during the 1990-2010 period was fueled by immigration and births to immigrants. The growth dynamics of the decades ahead though are expected to be very different. With the baby-boomers aging into their senior years, the gains in life-expectancy are becoming more and more noticeable. In addition, the continued low birth rate, delayed childbearing, and decline in immigration will over time affect the shape of the U.S. population’s age-distribution. The charts below reflect this clearly with the population pyramid losing its distinct baby boomer and echo boomer edges and evolving into a smooth wine barrel shape, reflecting less growth from births and immigration.