The Next Baby Bust?
Posted On July 19, 2011
In the 1930s and 40s, the Depression and World War II suppressed birth rates and created the Silent Generation (now part of the Matures) who were named “Silent” in part because there were so few of them. And the advent of the birth control pill in the 1960s had the same effect, leading to the “Baby Bust,” now known as Generation X. Now, the 2010 U.S. Census indicates that the current generation of children, born mostly to the smallish Generation X, represents the next “baby bust.”
Census figures show that children now make up a smaller percentage of the nation’s population than ever before. Children now make up only 24% of the population, below the previous low in the 1980s, when Gen Xers were kids. Earlier in the 20th Century, the percentage of children in the U.S. population ranged from 30-40%. The Census figures also show that one in four children in the U.S. today are immigrants or the children of immigrants, suggesting that sustained population growth is dependent on continued immigration.
Meanwhile, the percentage of the population over 65 continues to rise. It is expected to grow from 13% to 19% over the next several decades. These two phenomena have serious implications for the future economics of the nation as the retired segment of the population grows while the working-age population, which supports the needs of the retired, shrinks. While we don’t yet know what the current generation of children will be called (some have proposed “Generation Z” or “the New Silent Generation”), we do know that they will face some serious generational challenges.