The recently released Census Bureau data reveals that the median age of the U.S. population has reached a record high. This development is a result of declining birth rates and has far-reaching implications for the country. In 2022, the median age climbed to 38.9, steadily rising from 30 in 1980 to 35 in 2000, and now approaching 39. The simple truth is that fewer children are being born, leading to an aging population.
Maine and New Hampshire are the states with the oldest median age, 44.8 and 43.3, respectively. In contrast, Utah, the District of Columbia, and Texas have the youngest median ages, with figures ranging from 31.9 to 35.5. Utah’s high fertility rate, influenced by its Mormon population, contributes to its relatively young demographic. On the other hand, states like Maine have lower fertility rates, resulting in a higher median age.
Interestingly, communities with larger populations of black Americans, such as the District of Columbia and Kaufman County, Texas, exhibit younger median ages compared to the national average. Both regions have median ages below 35. This demographic trend challenges the notion that aging is uniformly affecting all communities within the United States.
The U.S. is not alone in grappling with aging populations and declining birth rates; European and Asian countries face similar concerns. Europe’s median age has reached 44, while Japan holds the title of the world’s oldest country, with a median age of 48. In stark contrast, many African nations maintain a median age below 20.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on birth rates in the U.S. Initially, there was a decline, followed by a slight increase, and then a small decline again from 2021 to 2022. A recent report by the CDC indicates a less than 1% decrease in total births during this period. Notably, there has been a continued rise in births among women in their early 40s and late 30s, as well as a remarkable 80% decline in teen births since 1991. Births among women aged 40-44 have remained stable since 1981, with the exception of 2020.
These shifting demographic patterns highlight the changing dynamics of American families. Many individuals and couples are choosing to delay having children or opting not to have them at all. The implications of an aging population and declining birth rates extend beyond individual families and impact various aspects of society, including workforce dynamics, social security programs, and economic growth.