U.S. population reaches record high median age

The population is now older than it has ever been, according to U.S. Census Bureau data

The median age in the United States has now reached a new, all-time high of 38.9 years, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau as reported by the New York Times.

The rise is precipitous, having previously reached 30 years in 1980 and 35 in the year 2000. Like many other nations, the population of the U.S. is growing older at a faster rate than in previous generations, which has the potential for notable ramifications on society and the economy.

Experts attributed the rise in median age to fewer births. Birthrates dropped sharply during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but increased slightly again in 2021 by about 1% according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, fertility rates have remained generally low since the Great Recession when compared with prior generations.

Other nations are experiencing similar changes, even in nations with more generous social welfare programs than the U.S. These include countries like Sweden, Norway and Finland, which maintain national subsidy programs for childcare.

In 2018, Japan had the highest population of elderly citizens anywhere in the world. Rural and urban areas in that country are experiencing an accelerated level of aging compared to other countries, which is likely caused by the nation’s sub-replacement fertility rates and generally high life expectancy.

The oldest states in the nation are Maine (with a median age of 44.8 years) and New Hampshire (43.3). The youngest state is Utah (31.9), followed by the District of Columbia (34.8) and Texas (35.5).

“Among counties with populations over 100,000, the oldest was Sumter County, Fla., where The Villages retirement community is partially based,” the Times report reads. “The median age there was 68.1. The youngest large county was Utah County, home to the city of Provo, with a median age of 25.7.”

Data like this is a reminder of the demographic trends that favor the reverse mortgage industry, and further reinforces trends previously noted by the Census Bureau that has shown the U.S. population growing older, faster over the past decade.

On top of the trends related to the population’s age, U.S. senior homeowners have also amassed sizable portions of home equity. Older homeowners’ equity levels hit $12.39 trillion in Q4 2022, according to the latest National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA)/RiskSpan data.

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