America’s population growth will slow to the lowest rate since the Great Depression as the nation ages in the next half-century.
New Census Bureau estimates call for a nation of 400 million people by 2050, but predict the lowest growth rate since the 1930s. The current U.S. population is 264 million.
The nation’s median age of 34.1 in 1995 was a record high. But it is expected to climb to 35.7 by 2000 and 38.7 by 2035, according to the report “Population Projections of the United States,” released Wednesday. Half the population is older than the median age and half younger.
The report, latest in an annual series, chronicles the continued aging of the population as the massive post-World War II baby boom generation nears 50, leaving a smaller generation of young people in their wake.
With the baby boomers growing mature, and fewer people in the prime childbearing years, the country’s growth rate will slow, the report observes.
Between 1995 and 2000, annual growth is expected to be 0.88 percent, the report says. But this is expected to slip to 0.63 percent annually between 2040 and 2050.
“The projected fall of the rate of natural increase is predominantly due to aging of the population and, consequently, a regular increase in the crude death rate,” the report says. It assumes immigration will be unchanged.
As the next century progresses, the baby boomers will begin retiring, increasing the so-called dependency ratio.
That ratio is the number of people under age 18 and over 65 compared to the number in the working ages in between.
In 1995, there were 63.7 people in the dependent ages for every 100 of working ages. This is projected to increase to 68.2 in 2020 and 79.9 by 2050.
However, the report adds, “at no time … would the dependency ratio be as high as that which existed in the 1960s because of the large number of children” from the baby boom.
But the elderly dependency ratio, at an all-time high of 20.9 in 1995, will grow to 35.7 by 2030.