The United States is getting older.

As America’s large baby boomer population ages, the number of children under 5 is shrinking, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data shows that the steady decline in births after 1970 has increased the median age in America from 28 to about 38 in the space of five decades.

“The new data adds to the evidence that, like many European and Asian nations, the United States is graying, posing challenges for the work force, the economy and social programs,” The New York Times said.

Utah is the youngest state in the nation, with a median age of about 31, according to The Washington Post.

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Baby population

Andrew A. Beveridge, president of Social Explorer, a demographic data firm, told the Times, “It’s simple arithmetic,” and that, “Fewer kids are being born.”

The Times stated that all over the world, birthrates have remained low, as millennial women have focused more on work or education in their early 20s compared to previous generations.

Utah County, home of Provo, has a median age of about 26 years old, making it the youngest county with a population of over 100,000, the Times added.

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Total dependency ratio

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The total dependency ratio shows the number of children and older adults compared to the number of those of working age. “In 2020, the total dependency ratio in the United States was 63.6 children under age 18 and adults age 65 and older for every 100 working-age people ages 18 to 64,” according to the Census Bureau. That’s up from 58.9 in 2010.

William Frey, a senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the Post, “It essentially tells how much the retirement-age population is dependent on the working-age population, and it continues to rise rapidly due to the aging of the baby boom.”

Frey added that “while the current level has now risen to near 30, we could be headed toward the mid-30s, which would mean more than a third of seniors would be dependent on a slower-growing working-age population,” per the Post.

Other findings from the data include:

  • The states with the highest total dependency rates were South Dakota and Idaho, at about 73 and 72.4.
  • Five states had an increase in their homeownership rate from 2010-2020: Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, South Carolina and Wyoming.
  • 50.9% of Americans were female, about 168.8 million, while males totaled 162.7 million.
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