The nation’s 65 and older population is projected to reach 93 million in the year 2050, almost double in size from the 2012 level of 43 million, according to two reports released recently from the U.S. Census Bureau. A large part of this growth is due to the aging of baby boomers (individuals born in the U.S 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 of U.S”, 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 U.S: 2012 to 2060“ focuses on the shifting size and structure of the baby boom population.
“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”, said Jannifer Ortman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Projections Branch.
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.
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.
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.
*This article was initially published in June 8, 2015