Americans Are Growing Older, Having Fewer Children: Census Data

Across the nation, the older population represents roughly 17% of the population


The median age in the U.S. has ticked up to nearly 38.8, an increase of more than 10 years since 1970, according to newly released census data.

As baby boomers age, there are now nearly 56 million people 65 and over in the U.S., up roughly 39% since 2010. Seniors make up more than one in five residents in Maine, Florida, and Vermont. Across the nation, the older population represents roughly 17% of the population.

Even as Millennials reach adulthood, fewer Americans appear to be having children, with roughly 1.8 million fewer children under 5 recorded in 2020 compared with 2010.

This disparity was driven in part by the uncertainty that followed the 2007-2009 Great Recession, sociologist Philip Cohen from the University of Maryland told the Associated Press.

"In the short run, the crisis of work-family balance, the lack of affordable childcare, and stresses associated with health care, housing, and employment stability all put a damper on birth rates," Cohen said.

The aging population could put a strain on working-age adults, whose taxes help support Social Security and Medicare. The total dependency ratio in the U.S. is now 63.6 — meaning that every 100 working-age people must now support roughly 64 children and seniors.

Despite the fact that life expectancy dropped to roughly 76 years in 2021 — the lowest since 1996, according to the CDC — the census revealed that the number of people over the age of 100 increased by about half, likely due to medical advancements, including more effective vaccines and surgical techniques.

Start your day with the biggest stories and exclusive reporting from The Messenger Morning, our weekday newsletter.
By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use.
Sign Up.