United States Demographics

Over the next 30 years, the US population age 65+ will double from 40 million to 80 million, and the share of old people will increase from 13% to 20%. By the time the last baby boomer turns 65 in 2029, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older. By 2032, there will be more people age 65 or older than children under 15.

At the same time, there will be fewer and fewer potential workers per retiree, just as the financial and social costs of an aging population are increasing. Without policy and behavioral changes, the fiscal burden on individual workers and taxpayers will skyrocket. The personal financial burden will also increase as people spend more years in retirement and reach older and older ages, with greater needs for personal care and other services.

Despite rapid growth in the older age brackets, the United States will remain relatively young compared with other advanced economies and is one of only a few advanced economies with a growing workforce. Understanding the competitive environment is critical if we are to capitalize on our potential demographic strengths.


“The Aging U.S. Workforce: A Chartbook of Demographic Shifts,” July 2013
The latest report from the Stanford Center on Longevity presents analysis of population and labor force age shifts, age distribution across industries and occupations, as well as other variables regarding job-tenure and employment, age-related work preferences, compensation, and job types. Read more

“Changing Demographic Realities,” Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America, April 2012
This chapter of SCL’s book on “aging in place” describes critical demographic shifts that must be understood to effectively meet the housing needs of an aging society. Read more

“New Realities of an Older America: Challenges, Changes and Questions,” July 2010
Comprehensive briefing on major demographic changes underway in the United States. This compendium of charts and analysis provides a framework for thinking about five critical trends that are shaping the new demographic reality: population aging, increased racial and ethnic diversity, changes in living arrangements, evolving health care needs, and challenges to financial well-being. The report captures key data and analysis in one single reference document. Read more

“Looking Forward From the Census,” San Jose Mercury News, March 2010
Op Ed on the relative youth of the U.S. population, arguing that the U.S. has more favorable demographics than other advanced economies but needs to better leverage these advantages. Read more

“Gender, Aging, and Workforce Issues,” January 2008
Briefing on gender and age differences in earnings, labor force participation, and entrepreneurial activity.