Thursday, September 02, 2021

One in Six Older Americans Is Childless

Who will care for childless adults as they age and require more help? That is one of the questions asked by the Census Bureau in its first examination of the aging childless population. The answers are important because the older childless population is growing as the baby-boom generation ages.

"In the United States, much of the care for older generations falls to their children," the Census Bureau explains. But millions of Americans aged 55 or older are childless. Here are the numbers...

Number (and percent) of childless Americans aged 55 or older (numbers in thousands)
Total 55-plus: 15,190 (16.5%)
Aged 55 to 64: 8,212 (19.6%)
Aged 65 to 74: 4,761 (15.9%)
Aged 75-plus: 2,214 (10.9%)

Note: The childless are those who have zero biological children.

The data for the report come from the 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation. In 2018, the baby-boom generation was aged 54 to 72. Among younger boomers, aged 55 to 64, fully one in five is childless. 

A substantial 40 percent of childless adults aged 55 or older live alone, according to the analysis. Among adults aged 55-plus who are parents, a smaller 21 percent live alone. "Childless adults appear to have fewer immediate sources of social support within their households," notes the report. "They are more likely than parents to be living alone and less likely to be living with a spouse."

But childless older adults also have some advantages. They are more educated than their counterparts who had children. As a consequence, their net worth is also higher than average. The median personal net worth of childless adults aged 55 or older was $153,900 in 2018. For all adults aged 55-plus, median personal net worth was a smaller $133,500 and for older parents just $130,400. The higher net worth of the childless "may put them at a greater advantage when it comes to obtaining paid care," states the report. 

Source: Census Bureau, Childless Older Americans: 2018

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