Demographic and Communication Trends for U.S. Adult 65+ Population

Prepared by: PJ Lehrer, Assistant Professor of Advertising at New York University
August 2015

Executive Summary

The 65+ population in the U.S. is growing as the Baby Boom generation ages. 76 million people were born between the years 1946 and 1964, and in 2011 they started to turn 65. By the year 2030, when they are all 65+, one in five Americans will be over 65.

To communicate effectively with Boomers, marketers need to connect with their values. Product and service claims need to be real, and the message content and style needs to be authentic.

Key Findings

Population trends
• Between the years 1946 and 1964, 76 million people were born, these are the Baby Boomers.
• In 2011, the Baby Boomers began turning 65.
• The generation prior to the Baby Boomers was much smaller in size, with only 47 million births. (Silent Generation, born 1928-1945).
• As a result of this shift, the U.S. population will age over the coming decades, and by 2030, when all the Baby Boomers will be 65+, one in five Americans is projected to be 65+.
• Between 2000 and 2010, the 60-64 age group had the largest percentage increase (55.6%) followed by the 55-59 age group (46.0%) Communication references.
• As people age they become increasingly resistant to advertising.
• To connect with Boomers, do not use hyperbole. Don’t exaggerate. This approach is perceived as hucksterism.
• They are satisfied with their lives, so don’t idealize aging or evoke images that are connected to their younger life.
• Self-centeredness is more common among younger people, ego-centered ads turn off older customers.

Detailed Findings

Census Bureau Report: Thursday, June 25, 2015
• The nation’s 65+ population grew from 44.7 million in 2013 to 46.2 million in 2014. This group, which now contains the oldest four years of the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) is 21.7% minority.
• Between 2010 and 2014, two counties added more than 100,000 to their 65+ population — Los Angeles, CA. (167,000) and Maricopa, AZ. (103,000).
• Florida had the highest percentage of 65+ in 2014 (19.1%), followed by Maine (18.3%).

(Release Number: CB15-113)

Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 – 2060
• The US population is projected to age over the coming decades, with a higher proportion of the nation’s total population 65+.
• By 2030, when all the Baby Boomers will be 65+, one in five Americans is projected to be 65+.

(Colby & Ortman, 2015)

Births Underlying Each Generation

The Generations Defined

The Greatest Generation
Born: Before 1928
Age in 2015: 88-100

The Silent Generation
Born: 1928 – 1945
Age in 2015: 70-87

The Baby Boom Generation
Born: 1946-1964
Age in 2015: 51-69

Generation X
Born: 1965-1980
Age in 2015: 35-50

The Millennial Generation
Born: 1981-1997
Age in 2015: 18-34

Source: Pew Research Center (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services)

Population by Age and Sex: 2000 and 2010

  • The Baby Boom population in 2010 is evident in the pyramid as a bulge at ages 46-64.
  • Consistent with this trend, the age group 60 to 64 was the five-year group with the largest percentage increase (55.6%) followed by the 55-59 age group (46.0%)

(Howden & Meyer, 2011)

References

(2015, June 25) Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse, Census Bureau Reports. Release Number: CB15-113, p1.
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-113.html

Colby, S. & Ortman, J. (2015, March) Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 – 2060. U.S. Department of Commerce; Economics and Statistics Administration; U.S. Census Bureau, p4.
http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf

Fry, R. (2015, January 16) This Year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers. pewresearch.org, p1.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/01/16/this-year-millennials-will-overtakebaby-boomers/
L. Howden & J. Meyer (2011, May) Age & Sex Composition: 2010. 2010 Census Briefs, p.3
http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2011/dec/c2010br-03.pdf

Gilmartin, J. (2015, March 2) Ever Wonder Why Baby Boomers Don’t Respond To Your Advertising? mediapost.com. Retrieved August 17, 2015, from
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/244620/ever-wonder-why-babyboomers-dont-respond-to-your.html?print

This chart has yearly estimates by age and sex for 2010 – 2013
http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk