By 2030, when the last of the large baby boom generation (born 1946 to 1964) has reached their mid-60s, more than 21 percent of the U.S. population is projected to be age 65 or older—up from about 15 percent in 2016.

The greying of America increases the costs of public programs for older adults and shifts the balance between working people supporting those programs and retirees receiving benefits. The old-age support ratio—the number of working-age adults ages 18 to 64 for every adult age 65 or older—is on course to shrink dramatically from 4.1 in 2016 to 2.8 by 2030. To relieve this fiscal pressure, policymakers continue to discuss new financial incentives to encourage people to postpone retirement, such as further raising the eligibility age for Social Security (currently age 67 for those born after 1960) and Medicare (now age 65).

Working longer can reduce public spending and enable some older workers to enter retirement with more financial security. Estimates based on past health trends suggest that most U.S. older adults can work an extra two years before retiring. [1 ]But a growing body of research suggests that baby boomers in their 50s and 60s are in poorer health—with more chronic disease and disability—than earlier generations at the same ages, potentially affecting their capacity to work longer.

Read more in Issue 37 of Today’s Research on Aging from PRB.

Related Resources

Are Baby Boomers Healthy Enough to Keep Working?

Today's Research on Aging, series by PRB