Last Tuesday the United States Census Bureau published a revealing report about the American population. For the first time in history, it is projected that in 12 years, the number of seniors 65+ of age will exceed the population under 18. In other words, by 2030, 1 in 5 will be retiring.
When I read this report I was in awe. If there is anything I see every day, everywhere at any given store or restaurant in Jacksonville, FL, are pregnant women or families with three or four small children.
Although skeptical, I got curious. So I started a search to compare the U.S. situation with my home country Colombia, the European Union, and Japan to not mention a few others. In order to use the same source of information to compare apples to apples, I referred to the CIA’s The Fact World Book, a world database that is updated constantly.
These were the results projected for 2017:
Colombia registers 16.1 births and 5.5 deaths per 1,000 people. The elderly dependency ratio is 10.2%
United States registers 12.5 births and 8.2 deaths per 1,000 people. The elderly dependency ratio is 22.1%
In the case of the EU, which started the aging process back in the 1980s, the situation is challenging. It has 10.1 births and 10.2 deaths per 1,000 people, and the elderly dependency ratio is 22.1%.
However, Japan is the one in a truly precarious situation. It has 7.7 births and 9.8 deaths per 1,000 people, and the elderly dependency ratio is 42.7%
The importance of this data is that as long as the population ages and starts depending on retirement systems, it is absolutely necessary to have enough young people to replace the elderly in the work marketplace to maintain a balance of contributions.
So, even though I need more data to support my statement, I have a theory about the aging trend of the American population and how it is related to the lifestyle of millennials.
Whether they are single or a couple, millennials live in big populated cities where a big chunk of the total American population concentrates. They like having freedom and experience life to the fullest without feeling tied down. They want to excel in their careers and accomplish their goals.
Therefore, because they don’t have time for babies, they get puppies or other pets. According to Statista, the number of households with a dog in the U.S. increased from 68 million in 2000 to almost 90 in 2017.
Now, ironically when they decide to become parents years later, painful health conditions such as infertility become, not only a physical but also a financial obstacle, which reduces their family size to one child.
The Census Bureau report made me think about my family. In my case, I only have one child, but my husband has two more young adults from his first marriage, so hopefully the three of them will carry our torch when we retire. Nevertheless, it may not be the case for everyone.
Just as an exercise, reflect on your own family and answer the following question: are there enough kids or young adults to replace the grownups in the workplace in 12 years? That may or may not show you a closer picture of the aging American population.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
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