PhotoThe U.S. Census Bureau reports that an emerging demographic trend spells trouble for future retirees. By 2030 -- 12 years from now -- senior citizens will outnumber children in the U.S.

Jonathan Vespa, a Census Bureau demographer, says 2030 is the year in which all baby boomers will be age 65 or older. One in five people in the U.S. will be of retirement age -- at least, what we now consider retirement age.

“By 2035, there will be 78 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18,” Vespa said.

Huge implications

The implications are huge when it comes to funding Social Security and Medicare. The Census Bureau report projects that by 2020, there will be about three-and-a-half working-age adults for every retirement-age person.

Four decades later, that ratio will shrink to just two-and-a-half working-age adults for every retirement-age person. The median age of someone living in the U.S. will likely rise from age 38 today to age 43 by 2060.

The reason for this, according to the Census Bureau, is the organic expansion of the U.S. population has slowed, and it projects that trend will continue. Families are having fewer children and people are living longer, often well into their 90s.

Aging of Japan

To see the implications, one need look no further than Japan, which has what some gerontologists call a "super-aging society."

"Aging is not only an immediate personal issue but also a salient factor in crucial public policies, such as pensions, health, and long-term care," according to a 2011 Japanese study in the journal The Gerontologist.

In 2014, one-third of the Japanese population was estimated to be above the age of 60, 25.9 percent were aged 65 or above, and 12.5 percent were aged 75 or above. People aged 65 and older in Japan make up a quarter of the country's total population.

The decline in the U.S. birthrate has coincided with a dramatic rise in healthcare costs, along with the costs of raising a child. In 2014, a U.S. government agency estimated the national median charges for having a baby were more than $13,000 for delivery and care for mothers and another $3,660 for babies.

It doesn't get any cheaper after that. As we reported last year, parents can expect to spend nearly $38,000 from birth to age 17.


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