America is an aging nation: Baby boomers are reaching retirement (the oldest turned 65 in 2011), and due to declining birth rates and limits on immigration, the population of the U.S. in 2021 grew by just 0.1% – the lowest rate since the nation’s founding. (These, though, are the states with the highest birth rates.)
The number of Americans older than 55 has increased by 27% over the last decade, 20 times faster than the growth rate of those under 55, according to Census data. The median age in the US is about 38. By 2060, it is forecast to be 43.
Every state has at least one county or county equivalent where the median age is more than five years above the national median. To determine the county in every state with the oldest population, 24/7 Tempo reviewed five-year data on median age in each county from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. Counties and their equivalents were ranked based on the median age of all residents.
Supplemental data on total population is also based on five-year estimates from the 2020 ACS. Data on life expectancy by county came from the 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The identity of county seats comes from the National Association of Counties County Explorer.
The median age is over 50 in 37 counties on this list, and in three counties – Custer (Colorado), Sumter (Florida), and Loving (Texas) – it’s over 60. (These are the worst states in which to grow old.)
Most of the counties with an older population are small. Thirty-six of them have a population of fewer than 20,000 people, and four have a population under 1,000. The smallest one on the list is Loving County in Texas, with just 117 residents.
A county can have a higher-than-average median age for a variety of reasons. It can be a retirement destination, for instance, or be lacking in such institutions as colleges, large corporations, or military bases that would attract a younger demographic.
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