Friday, February 17, 2006

Boomer Story Takes a Turn

This should give you pause: During the next 15 years, the baby-boom generation will shrink by 10 percent. Between 2005 and 2020, the number of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 will fall from 78 million to 70 million, according to Census Bureau projections. Soon, boomers will no longer be the largest generation. That dubious honor will pass to the millennial generation, born between 1977 and 1994.

The big shrink begins when boomer deaths outnumber gains from immigration. My estimates show we have passed the tipping point. Immigrants in the baby-boom age group boost the boomer population by about 200,000 a year. Right now, deaths are trimming boomers by a slightly larger 223,000. Deaths will outnumber immigrants by a rapidly expanding margin with each passing year.

The older generations of Americans are already in steep decline. The number of people in what we call the Swing (born between 1933 and 1945) and World War II generations (born before 1933) will fall by more than half during the next 15 years, plummeting from 50 million in 2005 to 23 million in 2020.

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