The Voting Population is Gettin’ on in Years


An intriguing paper from Brookings relays how America’s voting population is skewing older. This is the first time in history (or at least the first census) in which people 45 and older made up the majority of the voting population.

These trends have combined today to yield an older nation. Median U.S. age is 37.2—up from 32.6 in 1990. Now nearly four in ten Americans (39 percent) are over age 45, up from 34 percent in 2000 and 31 percent in 1990…

Due to baby boomers “aging in place,” the population age 45 and over grew 18 times as
fast as the population under age 45 between 2000 and 2010. The aging of the U.S. population is most apparent when viewed from the perspective of age group growth patterns (Figure 1A). Each one of the broad age groups over age 45 show higher 10-year growth rates than each of those under age 45. As a consequence, the age-45-and-above population increased by more than one-quarter while the under-45 population increased by a mere 1.4 percent..

This advanced “middle aging” of our society may have important impacts on our politics, as this is the first census when persons age 45 and over represent a majority (53 percent) of the voting-age (18 and over) population. The political clout of older Americans will be even more magnifi ed if the traditional higher turnout of this group continues, and as the competition for resources between the old and the young becomes more intense.

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