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U.S. Median Age
and Age Cohorts
 
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  Where's the Pig?  
  The baby boom generation (born 1943 to 1960) has often been referred to as the "pig in the python", illustrating its effect as the largest portion of the population since the fifties (see second graph below). Today, the oldest Baby Boomers are at the cusp of "retirement age". So, where is the pig as it travels through the python, and how will it impact population trends in the future?  
  MEDIAN AGE RISING The median age rose gradually from 23 in 1900 to 26 in 1930 and then rose more rapidly to 29 in 1940 with the realtively small number of births during the 1930s. After increasing to 30 in 1950, the median age fell, as a result of the baby boom, to 28 in 1970. Beginning in the 1970s, lower fertility combined with the aging of the baby boom generation (the oldest turned age 30 in 1976), pushed the median age sharply higher. It reached 30 in 1980—the same median age as in 1950—and continued to increase to a record high of 35 in 2000. In this century, the total population more than tripled, while the 65 years and over population grew more than tenfold, from 3.1 million in 1900 to 35.0 million in 2000.  
  From 1900 to 1990, the elderly population grew faster than the total population in each decade, but between 1990 and 2000, for the first time in the history of the census, the 65 years and over population grew slower than the total population. During the 1990s, the total population increased by 13.2 percent, while the population 65 years and over increased by only 12.0 percent. As a result, people age 65 and over represented a slighty smaller share of the U.S. population in 2000 (12.4) than in 1990 (12.6 percent).  
     
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United States Population by Age
Sources: US Census Bureau, Census 2000; Current Population Survey: November 2002
Current Population Report: Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2000

2004 POPULATION BY GENERATION PERCENTAGE
YOUNGEST AND OLDEST AGE GROUPS
by Percentage of the Population 1940 to 2050
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