Monday, April 28, 2014

2010 Oneida County Retrospective: Our Aging Population

Aging of Oneida County Population in 2010

  • Median age is above 40 years old for first time
  • About one in six people are age 65 or older
  • Preschool aged youth only make up about 6% of population

The advance of the “baby boom generation” among age cohorts continues to influence the “graying” of the population within Oneida County. With the current median age at 40.6 years old, the baby boom population transition from young adulthood to middle age continues to be felt. More than half (57%) of the county’s population is between the age of 20 and 65. In addition, almost one out of every six residents (16%) is age 65 or older. About one out of every five people (22%) in Oneida County is under the age of 18. The county’s youngest cohort, those under age 5, make up less than 6% of the total population.

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Historical Aging Trends in Oneida County 1950 - 2010

  • Median age grows with "graying" of baby boomers
  • Elderly females driving overall median age of all females to more than 40 years old
  • Elderly males growing in number faster than females

Median Age: The median age of Oneida County residents has changed considerably over the last 60 years. This change has not, however, simply been one of a stagnantly aging population. As a matter of fact, the median age of the population actually declined for a period of twenty years, from 1950 to 1970.  During those 20 years the median age dropped from 32.9 in 1950 to 29.0 in 1970. After 1970, the median age began to climb, rising to the Census 2010 level of 40.6 years of age.

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Baby Boom Influence: Much of this change in median age is a result of the introduction, and the aging, of what has been called the “baby boom” generation. The movement of baby boomers from youth to working age adults to those entering the retirement age can be tracked rather easily over the last half of the 20th century by following their movement through a series of simple population pyramids.

Boomers first begin showing up as a population influence in the 1950s. They basically comprise the youngest members of the county, those who were age 5 and younger. In Chart 3 you can see the very beginning of the largest generational shift in our country's history beginning to make itself known in the local data. By the time of the 1980 Census, the Baby Boom Generation is now generally between 15 and 35, young workers (Chart 4). Over the next thirty years the bugle in the population pyramid representing the baby boomers shifts closer to retirement age. In 2010 the leading edge of the generation reaches 65, as seen in Chart 5 below.

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This, in many ways, is probably the most impressive impact of the baby boomers; their entry into retirement represents a major shift in our demographics. The growth of the county’s elderly population, those age 65 and older, has increased dramatically since 1950. While about 23,000 persons were in this category at the midway point of the last century, as we make our way into the new millennium baby boomers have pushed the elderly ranks to more than 38,000 persons. Retirement aged persons have gone from representing about 11% of the total population in 1950 to more than 16% in 2010.

Elderly Female Population: Among the elderly, the majority of its members are females. While females comprise about 51% of the general population, they represent a far greater portion of the elderly. Until 2000, the number of elderly females increased in Oneida County. From 1950 to 1990, females age 65 or older have increased from about 12,000 in 1950 to nearly double that number by 1990 (23,633). They went from representing around 53% all people age 65 and over, to 61% of that same group before the end of the century.

However, since the beginning of the new millennium, elderly females influence is waning somewhat. While still representing a solid majority of people age 65 and over, their numbers and the percent that they represent of our senior population has dropped some. From 1990 to 2010, senior females have gone from a high of some 23,000 women to around 22,000. More dramatically elderly females no longer represent more than 60% of the elderly: in 2010, they now make up 58% of all seniors, their lowest percentage since 1960.

Generally speaking, men and women have seen similar changes in their median ages over the years. Male and female segments of the population experienced their lowest median age in 1970, when men’s median age as a group was around 27 years of age and women’s was about 31.

Since that time, and corresponding with the rise of the baby boom generation, men’s and women’s median ages has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2010, the median age of women in the county jumped to 42 years of age, while men’s is slightly less than 40. Although this climb in median age is roughly the same for both sexes, males have gained ever so slightly in the last decade, narrowing the gap from about three and a half years difference in 2000 to less than three years in 2010.