Special Report

The Future of the American People: 10 Key Milestones Coming This Century

America will look a lot different by 2060 than it does today. The demographic composition of the country is going to be significantly altered as a result of the aging baby boom generation, falling birth rates, and continued immigration, with the population reaching new milestones in the nation’s history. (These are the states where the population has grown the most since 1880.)

To determine the major demographic turning points of the 21st century, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections program, International Database, and 2018 paper “Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060” by Vespa, Jonathan, Lauren Medina, and David M. Armstrong. We assembled 10 turning points that underscore some of the major demographic trends shaping America over the next 40 years.

One of the largest drivers of demographic change in the United States is the aging baby boomer generation. Currently, baby boomers constitute 20.6% of the population. As that cohort ages, the median age of the population will rise, and by 2028, one in every five Americans will be 65 years and older. 

By 2034, the number of 65 and older Americans will outnumber the population of Americans 17 and younger. The age dependency ratio of the 65 and older population (65+ population / 18 to 64 population) may create more demand for government programs such as Social Security and may require higher taxation of the working-age population and have other economic implications.

Falling birth rates will also define major demographic trends of the coming decades. As births per capita fall and deaths per capita increase, the rate of natural population change will decline significantly, and by 2030, net migration will overtake natural increase as the primary driver of U.S. population growth. Due to the increased impact of immigration, the share of the U.S. population that is foreign-born will reach 14.9% by 2028 — the largest share since 1850. (These are the states that will grow the most in the next 20 years.)

Click here to see the biggest population milestones likely to occur this century

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