Five U.S. Facts and Trends in 2023 That You Should Know

The U.S. population has entered middle age. How is the country aging, and what could that mean for the future?

The United States is aging rapidly, and recent data underscore this point. The number of births continued to decline. Meanwhile, the median age reached 38.9 years, or about half of the U.S. life expectancy (77.5 years). Framed another way, it’s as if the United States entered middle age in 2023. For better or worse, we may be experiencing some of the angst that accompanies such a transition.

Here we highlight five trends that PRB presented in 2023 that offer glimpses into how we are aging as a country and what the future holds for young and older generations alike.

1. By 2038, the United States could have more deaths than births.

Newly released population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that by 2038, the nation’s deaths will outnumber births. As Beth Jarosz writes, by 2100, we will have more adults ages 65 and older, while children will become a smaller share of the population (at just 16%).

2. Aging is exacerbating our caregiver crisis.

As the U.S. population ages, the need for caregiving investments becomes more urgent. In 2021, just 0.7% of the U.S. GDP went toward family investments, well below the average among our peer countries. Such under-investments put pressure on informal caregivers to fill the gap as Americans age. In an era of low unemployment and a shrinking pool of workers, paid caregiving jobs will be hard to fill.

3. American young women are less safe.

As Sara Srygley and others write in “Losing More Ground,” the generational progress of Millennial women declined because of threats to their health and safety. Maternal mortality, homicide, and suicide increased, outweighing gains realized in education, income, and political representation. In particular, Black women have seen a dramatic increase in maternal mortality—a preventable outcome where the United States is failing.

4. Children and families have lost important supports.

The next generation of parents and workers are today’s children. Pandemic-era subsidies to child care providers prevented dramatic declines in the already scarce availability of licensed care. Safety net provisions reduced child poverty in California and the United States overall during the COVID-19 pandemic. With these investments ending, children and their families will face renewed challenges in meeting everyday needs.

5. The future looks bright if we commit to what works and choose to innovate.

As Mark Mather writes, thoughtful immigration policy could ease our shrinking population over the next 25 years as we sit at a demographic crossroads. State policies also offer models to protect our working-age population from premature deaths. Finally, slower growth in the United States and our peer countries could present an opportunity to reimagine the future and embrace innovation.

Follow PRB throughout 2024 as we explore these themes and identify how the trends are shaping policies and population in the United States.