Fueled by baby boomers, the nation’s 65-and-older population is projected to reach 83.7 million in 2050, which is almost double in size from the 2012 level of 43.1 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This changing age structure has implications for families, health care, policymakers and businesses.
A large part of the growth is due to the aging of baby boomers – the generation born between 1946 and 1964 – who began turning 65 in 2011. This group is now driving growth at the older ages of the population, according to two reports released this month by the Census Bureau.
The first new report, An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States, 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 United States: 2012 to 2060, focuses on the shifting size and structure of the baby boom population. These briefs use data from the 2012 national projections of the U.S. population.
“The United States is projected to age significantly over this period, with 20 percent of its population age 65 and over by 2030,” said Jennifer Ortman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Projections Branch.
“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.”
Census Bureau 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.