The population of seniors in the U.S. is forecast to nearly double over the next three decades, growing from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.
An aging workforce is typically considered to be a negative for an economy, but the implications might not be as scary as we’re led to believe.
The U.S. population is getting older, on average, but compared to our main economic partners in Europe and Asia, we’re getting older, less quickly.
Mainly because we have more babies, and more immigrants.
“And that is replenishing the working age population and also helping hold up the birth rate in the United States,” said Brookings Institution Economist Gary Burtless. “The second thing is that baby boomers have been retiring later in life.”
This is important, because in addition to making things, workers also pay taxes which go into services for seniors. In fact, economists have a statistic for measuring this, called the “old-age dependency ratio.” Quite simply, the number of retirees as a percentage of number of workers.
However, the stats assume everyone is retired at 65 — but given longer life expectancies and a proliferation of less-physical kinds of jobs, 65 isn’t that old any more.
And when the baby boomers finally do retire, they still contribute the economy.
“They continue to go to the market and buy food groceries, and they continue to go to movies and travel and go on vacations,” Michael Giandrea said, a research economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, perhaps instead of worrying about what will happen when the boomers finally do retire — we should all invest in Cracker Barrel stock right now.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.