NC in Focus: Population Proportion 65 and Older, 2010-2035

“In 2011, the first of the baby boomers reached what used to be known as retirement age. And for the next 18 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day. As this unique cohort grows older, it will likely transform the institutions of aging — just as it has done to other aspects of American life. Will boomers redefine this life stage, or will it redefine them? We’ll explore that question in a four-week-long series commemorating this generational milestone.” – AARP, “Baby Boomers Turning 65

There were nearly 45 million individuals ages 65 and older in 2013, representing 14.5% of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent population estimates by age. Just over 1.4 million of these older Americans lived in North Carolina, comprising 14.3% of the state’s population in 2013.

The population proportion 65 and older has increased markedly for both the US and North Carolina since 2010, when it was just 13% of the population. This growth has been fueled by the aging of the large Baby Boom generation, the oldest of whom began turning 65 in 2011. The share of the population at older ages will grow steadily in coming decades. By 2035, more than one in five residents in both North Carolina and the nation will be 65 or older. North Carolina is projected to have 2.5 million residents age 65 and older in 2035. Nationally, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the population 65 and older will reach 79.2 million by 2035.

Population Proportion 65 and Older, US v NC, 2010-2035

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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