California’s Aging Population: Not Forever Young

Jun 13, 2012 No Comments by

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California is projected to age faster than the nation

Currently the sixth youngest state, California will soon begin aging faster than the nation. According to the State’s recently released Interim Population Projections, the number of old people in California, those age 65 and older, will double over the next twenty years from 4.3 million in 2010 to 8.4 million in 2030. This will occur as the huge baby boomer cohort—the population born from 1946 to 1964—passes age 65. As the baby boomers turn 65, the share of old people will increase from 11% in 2010 to 19% by 2030. This steepness of this increase reflects a dramatic shift in the overall age structure.

Figure 1
California’s older population will double over the next 20 years
Projected Population by Age

Data Source: California Department of Finance 2012*
Analysis: Stanford Center on Longevity

In contrast to California’s doubling in twenty years, the nationwide population age 65+ will take almost thirty years to double, growing from 40 million in 2010 to 81 million in 2040 with the share increasing from 13% in 2010 to 20% by 2040.

California is currently younger than the nation, with only 11% of its population age 65+ compared with 13% nationally. But with the aging of its disproportionately large baby boom cohort, California will catch up and surpass the national level of aging by 2040. According to the most recent projections, beginning in 2040 California’s population will be slightly older than the nation’s.

Figure 2
California will catch up and surpass the US in share of old people
Population Age 65+ as % of Total, US and California

Data Sources: California Department of Finance 2012; U.S. Census Bureau 2008*
Analysis: Stanford Center on Longevity


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