The US population is now older than it has ever been before, new national statistics show.
Data from the US Census Bureau revealed that the median American was a record 38.9 years old in 2022 — up from 30 in 1980 and 28 in 1970.
The rising age of the nation is being driven by the fact people are living longer and having fewer babies — a trend that many of the smartest minds in the world say could plunge the country into economic disaster.
Kristie Wilder, a demographer at the Census Bureau, said: ‘As the nation’s median age creeps closer to 40, you can really see how the aging of baby boomers, and now their children, is impacting the median age.
‘The eldest of the echo boomers [children of baby boomers] have started to reach or exceed the nation’s median age of 38.9.’
The US population is now the oldest that it has ever been at 38.9 years, statistics show. More people putting work and education in front of starting a family is behind the shift
This map shows the median age of Americans by county. As many as a third of all counties now have a median age above 60 years
She added: ‘While natural change nationally has been positive, as there have been more births than deaths, birth rates have gradually declined over the past two decades.
‘Without a rapidly growing young population, the US median age will likely continue its slow but steady rise.’
In its report, the US Census Bureau calculated the median age of Americans for the year 2022 which was the latest it had data for.
The figures were based on data for births and deaths over the last year, with births outpacing fatalities, as well as figures from the 2020 census.
The median age was up 0.2 years — equivalent to nearly three months — last year compared to the previous 12-month period. Since 2000, it has risen by 3.6 years.
About a third of states now have a median age over 40 years, with Maine leading at 44.8 years alongside New Hampshire at 43.3 years.
The US population was youngest in the 1970s, when a baby boom following the Second World War sent the median age tumbling to below 30 years old.
But it has steadily climbed ever since amid the advent of contraception, changing norms on when to start a family and the opening up of education and the workplace to women.
Improvements in life expectancy amid the discovery of new antibiotics and the development of better healthcare have further pushed up the median age, as more Americans live for longer. In recent years this has stalled, however, with US life expectancy dropping slightly in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
In 2021, life expectancy saw its largest single-year gain of 0.3 years — which experts said was driven by fewer births than normal as lockdowns led many to put off starting a family.
The report said that no states saw their median age fall over the last year, although four — Alabama, Maine, Tennessee and West Virginia — saw it remain static.
The youngest states were Utah (31.9 years), Washington D.C. (34.8) and Texas (35.5 years).
Out of America’s more than 3,100 counties, the oldest was Sumter County in Texas at 68.1 years — which is home to part of a retirement village.
It was followed by Catron County, New Mexico, at 62.1 years, and Jeff Davis County, Texas, at 61.7 years.
The fastest aging counties were Jasper County, South Carolina, and Blaine County, Idaho, which saw their ages increase by one year over the last year alone.
Seven counties across the country had median ages below 30 years — two in Utah, one each in North Carolina, Indiana, Georgia and two in Texas. But these were all home to large universities, which may explain the lower ages.
It comes after a separate report revealed earlier this month that a record number of women were now waiting to have children until they were in their 40s.
This map shows the shift in median age over the year between 2020 and 2022 by county. The fastest aging areas were Jasper County, South Carolina and Blaine County, Idaho, which saw their age rise by one year over the last 12-month period alone
The above estimates from OurWorldInData — based in Oxford, UK — show how the average age is rising across all developed nations as more people put off starting a family until later
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed the birth rate for women aged 40 to 44 rose four percent in 2022 from the previous year to a record high.
There was also a 12 percent uptick among women who were aged 45 to 49 years, the first change in this rate since 2015 and a rise to another record level.
Experts said that the shift was being made possible by invitro-fertilization technologies, allowing women to freeze eggs in their 20s for use later in life.
This has given them the option to focus on their careers, travel and social life ahead of starting a family.
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