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U.S. Seniors to Outnumber Children for the First Time

Outline: By 2030 all U.S. baby boomers will be older than age 65, this will expand the size of the senior population so 1 in 5 residents will then be of retirement age.

Main Digest

The year 2030 marks an important demographic turning point in U.S. history according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2017 National Population Projections. By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be retirement age.

"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 U.S. Census Bureau. "By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18."

The 2030s are projected to be a transformative decade for the U.S. population.

The population is expected to grow at a slower pace, age considerably and become more racially and ethnically diverse.

Net international migration is projected to overtake natural increase in 2030 as the primary driver of population growth in the United States, another demographic first for the United States.

Although births are projected to be nearly four times larger than the level of net international migration in coming decades, a rising number of deaths will increasingly offset how much births are able to contribute to population growth.

Between 2020 and 2050, the number of deaths is projected to rise substantially as the population ages and a significant share of the population, the baby boomers, age into older adulthood. As a result, the population will naturally grow very slowly, leaving net international migration to overtake natural increase as the leading cause of population growth, even as projected levels of migration remain relatively constant.

From Pyramid to Pillar - A Century of Change, Population of the U.S. Chart- Image Credit: U.S. Census.gov
From Pyramid to Pillar - A Century of Change, Population of the U.S. Chart- Image Credit: U.S. Census.gov

Other Highlights

Population Growth

Aging

Race and Ethnicity

Children

Background on the 2017 Projections Series

The 2017 National Population Projections are the third set of projections based on the 2010 Census. This series updates the prior series released in 2014, which was the first to incorporate separate assumptions about the fertility of native-born and foreign-born women living in the United States, since the latter tend to have higher fertility rates.

The 2017 series extends that work to include assumptions about the mortality of native-born and foreign-born people. For the first time, the national population projections will account for the generally lower mortality rates and higher life expectancy of the foreign-born, which allows us to better project for the effects of international migration on the population of the United States. The 2017 series also includes projections of the racial and ethnic composition of children and older adults for the first time. See population projections for more information or visit census.gov

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