22 Facts About The Coming US Demographic Shock Wave

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

Today, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire.  This is going to happen day after day, month after month, year after year until 2030.  It is the greatest demographic tsunami in the history of the United States, and we are woefully unprepared for it.  We have made financial promises to the Baby Boomers worth tens of trillions of dollars that we simply are not going to be able to keep.  Even if we didn't have all of the other massive economic problems that we are currently dealing with, this retirement crisis would be enough to destroy our economy all by itself.  During the first half of this century, the number of senior citizens in the United States is being projected to more than double.  As a nation, we are already drowning in debtSo where in the world are we going to get the money to take care of all of these elderly people?

The Baby Boomer generation is so massive that it has fundamentally changed America with each stage that it has gone through.  When the Baby Boomers were young, sales of diapers and toys absolutely skyrocketed.  When they became young adults, they pioneered social changes that permanently altered our society.  Much of the time, these changes were for the worse.

According to the New York Post, overall household spending peaks when we reach the age of 46.  And guess what year the peak of the Baby Boom generation reached that age?...

People tend, for instance, to buy houses at about the same age — age 31 or so. Around age 53 is when people tend to buy their luxury cars — after the kids have finished college, before old age sets in. Demographics can even tell us when your household spending on potato chips is likely to peak — when the head of it is about 42.


Ultimately the size of the US economy is simply the total of what we’re all spending. Overall household spending hits a high when we’re about 46. So the peak of the Baby Boom (1961) plus 46 suggests that a high point in the US economy should be about 2007, with a long, slow decline to follow for years to come.

And according to that same article, the Congressional Budget Office is also projecting that an aging population will lead to diminished economic growth in the years ahead...

Lost in the discussion of this week’s Congressional Budget Office report (which said 2.5 million fewer Americans would be working because of Obamacare) was its prediction that aging will be a major drag on growth: “Beyond 2017,” said the report, “CBO expects that economic growth will diminish to a pace that is well below the average seen over the past several decades [due in large part to] slower growth in the labor force because of the aging of the population.”

So we have a problem.  Our population is rapidly aging, and an immense amount of economic resources is going to be required to care for them all.

Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when our economy is steadily declining.

The following are some of the hard numbers about the demographic tsunami which is now beginning to overtake us...

1. Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens in the United States.  By 2050 that number is projected to skyrocket to 89 million.

2. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

3. One poll discovered that 26 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no personal savings whatsoever.

4. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, "60 percent of American workers said the total value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000".

5. 67 percent of all American workers believe that they "are a little or a lot behind schedule on saving for retirement".

6. A study conducted by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

7. Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65.  Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.

8. According to one recent survey, 70 percent of all American workers expect to continue working once they are "retired".

9. A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

10. A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

11. Today, only 10 percent of private companies in the U.S. provide guaranteed lifelong pensions for their employees.

12. According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for retirees that state and local governments across the United States have accumulated is 4.4 trillion dollars.

13. Right now, the American people spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that due to our aging population health care spending will rise to an astounding 4.5 trillion dollars in 2019.

14. Incredibly, the United States spends more on health care than China, Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.

15. If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

16. When Medicare was first established, we were told that it would cost about $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around.  Instead, the federal government ended up spending $110 billion on the program in 1990, and the federal government spent approximately $600 billion on the program in 2013.

17. It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

18. At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

19. In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.  Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

20. Right now, there are approximately 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.

21. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

22. The U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities during the years ahead.  Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.

So where are we going to get the money?

That is a very good question.

The generations following the Baby Boomers are going to have to try to figure out a way to navigate this crisis.  The bright future that they were supposed to have has been destroyed by our foolishness and our reckless accumulation of debt.

But do they actually deserve a "bright future"?  Perhaps they deserve to spend their years slaving away to support previous generations during their golden years.  Young people today tend to be extremely greedy, self-centered and lacking in compassion.  They start blogs with titles such as "Selfies With Homeless People".  Here is one example from that blog...

Selfies With Homeless People

Of course not all young people are like that.  Some are shining examples of what young Americans should be.

Unfortunately, those that are on the right path are a relatively small minority.

In the end, it is our choices that define us, and ultimately America may get exactly what it deserves.

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LetThemEatRand's picture

Affluenza.  Our elders benefitted from a post-war boom followed by decades of money printing that was designed to enrich the top but temporarliy enriched the middle.  Meanwhile, the youth all think they are the next rap star or other celebrity because the tee vee tells them so.  Or they just exist online playing video games in a virtual universe.  Max K nailed it with Farmville serfs clicking for dollars for someone else.  Real serfs shall follow.  

LawsofPhysics's picture

Do I need to say it again?

I remain long sharecropping and a dependable tribe.

Yes, the "kids will be kids", but eventually the motherfuckers are going to want to eat.

LetThemEatRand's picture

"...but eventually the motherfuckers are going to want to eat."

Let them eat Rand.

john39's picture

no worries, the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations are all over the problem.  Enough eugenics goodness to ensure that every life well lived is over well within actuarial expectations for a happy and financial sound sheeple farm.

LetThemEatRand's picture

As Rand envisioned.  They will "go Galt" and leave us all to fight for scraps.

Soul Glow's picture

You forgot "cheap oil".  The boomers lived their whole lives with well greased machines paving their way.

LetThemEatRand's picture

And well greased politicians paid by the oil magnates to keep the MIC well armed to keep said cheap oil flowing while we bought the world a Coke.

NoDebt's picture

Earlier this evening I told my father:  "Dad, no offense, but I don't like paying for your SS and Medicare, let alone millions like you."

Still a sharp old buzzard, he shoots back "Gotcha!"

I said something about putting a pillow over his head while he was sleeping.  He breaks into raucous laughter.  I give him a hug, tell him I love him, he does the same and heads back home.

Fucking old people can't afford 'em.  Can't kill 'em.

Soul Glow's picture

Go read Bruce's articles and then have a real conversation with your father.  You'll be the wiser.

NoDebt's picture

You assume my situation is one of lack of information or understanding.  It is not.  

Once you know the full horror of how bad you're fucked, your focus changes.

Keyser's picture

Here's an old fucker saying for you, being forewarned is being forearmed. By being awake to what is happening, you are 1000% better off than the sheeple that are oblivious to the coming tsunami. Personally, I've stopped trying to enlighten people. Fuck 'em, they don't want to hear it and they think you're nuts. So, let them eat Rand.



derek_vineyard's picture

one term to hillary one to muchelle then two terms each to O's daughters.  its all taken care of. no worries.

TruthInSunshine's picture

#23 - Future entitlements will be paid out in the form of bitcoin in accordance with the newly signed "Satoshi-NSA Pax Americana Financial Stability & Retirement MyRA Act," per Obama Executive Order.

LetThemEatRand's picture

 Where?  Oh, I thought you said raining.

BeansMcGreens's picture

Oh you have got that right as the worst is yet to come with God's continuing judgement on not only the US, but the whole world. Politics are man's vain game.


As the old hymn says: "I'd rather have JESUS than silver and gold".

GetZeeGold's picture





Where is my new Obamaphone?


The one I've got is like 3 months old now.

Toxicosis's picture

Why can you barter him for some bread and clean water.  He must be really special to do so.  Oh and good luck with that.

BooMushroom's picture

Proverbs 21:20:

20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man spendeth it up.

merizobeach's picture

Fuck you and your fake jesus.

InflammatoryResponse's picture


Logan 5: what about Renewals?

Computer:  slience

Logan 5: are there renewals?

Computer:  silence

Computer: Identify

Logan 5 puts hand on gizmo, he looks at his palm flower and sees it is blinking.

Logan 5: it is Blinking, will I get the years back?

Computer: silence


in a nutshell   Logan 5 just got screwed.  now he has to run through a shopping mall with a pretty brunette, shoot a couple people and kill a robot and find an old guy.


Beloved Wife, Beloved Husband.





macholatte's picture


No Worries.

The Final Solution: Obmacare Death Panels.

AldousHuxley's picture

do you reall want to live until 120 years old wearing diapers for 40 years, unable to hear or taste or see much, and 99.999% of your friends are gone, and even your grandchildren are "old"?


See japan's suicide statistics for 110+ year olds.


government should have a safety net for age 60-80....if you want a life after "natural" state of being, then pay for adult diapers and wipe your own ass!

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture



When Obama/Pelosi/Hillary care goes single-payer there won't be any "death panels" as the whole thing will be one giant death panel!

BTFDemocracy's picture

@TruthInSunshine - Bitcoin speculators can only dream of the Gov't picking up BTC to pay out pensions with.

new game's picture

here today gone tomarrow. 270 million people fucked.

it is a 5.5:1 ratio of have nothing and deparate mofo's.

that is the clear pic, retina clear. see it and plan accordingly.

rural with fortress and 308's loaded protecting OR roaming like a wolf

and preying on sheeples...OR like germany 1943. not gonna be good.

all because of; drum roll, 1913 act of creation of the FED! fiat created with taxation 

without representation-evolving to PURE MOFO FACSISM!!!!!THAT IS REALITY...

Yenbot's picture

Next time you put your hand in the old man's pants pocket and feel the warm, hard .25 ACP he's packing, you'll know why wise youngsters respect their elders.

deflator's picture

Who puts their hand in the old mans pant pockets?

AldousHuxley's picture

gold diggers like Jackie O Kennedy.

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture



Mine is a .45 ACP.

Size matters!

wtf1369's picture

Was thinking the same. I don't want to put my hand in any man's pocket or feel a .25 acp. Neither sounds enticing in the least.

Radical Marijuana's picture

Yeah, a theme in Snyder's articles that I observe is that he is following the path of THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE WORSE IT GETS! However, lately he seems also to be collapsing back to the bullshit that somehow "We Deserve It."


Climbing The Ladder of Awareness

By Paul Chefurka, October 19, 2012.

Sorynn's picture

Thanks for posting the article. 

It syncs well with me thinking about the 5 stages of greif as they apply to our broader societies.


I also appreciate the perspective of Outer and Inner methods of coping.  I am working on both fronts, being active in permaculture and seeking my own spiritual path as well.


Nice to see this sort of thing on zerohedge.

Harbanger's picture

I had a hard time understanding pops.  For starters he's of the hippie generation that is now in power, so he's easy to blame.  I didn't get it until my 30's.  Then I understood that he was also a vitcim of the progressive/liberal agenda which has influenced and shaped our present condition.

Rafferty's picture

Much truth here. I'm a Boomer though not American and looking back I can see that we were all like microbes in a petri dish, naive subjects in the Frankfurt School experiment in social degeneration. Sure, we're all responsible for our own actions but it took me decades before the awful truth began to emerge.

new game's picture

looking into the microscope I see odd microbes visiting ZH. Away from the cluster mutating to form a militia!  maybe darwin was spot on! only optimism i can offer today...

HardAssets's picture

Maybe we all 'could afford' our older loved ones . . . . . . if the value of 97% of all our earnings and savings hadn't been stolen through bankster inflation over the last 100 years ?  Not even including how much they stole in 'taxes' - just how much more would you have had for your own retirement and healthcare if you & your family had all that money back ?

The banksters always get the people to focus on the wrong thing . . . and fight among themselves.

topshelfstuff's picture

Oldest trick in the book = Keep one group of people angry at another group, including female against male...anyhow, you forget, your father has at least $250,000 accumulated in SS, at the very least (i ony used gross annual wages of $35,000). I said "at the least", since this money is supposed to have been collecting Interest ...do the Math

and Medicare ain't "Free"..$100+ is taken out each month for Medicare, plus there's a Deductable and Co-Pays, and it costs another $100+ monthly to have Med Insurance, another $100+ a month for Prescription Ins, yet still have Deductables and Co=Pays...IOW, its about $5,000 a year out of pocket on Medicare

DanDaley's picture

You won't have to kill 'em...Obamacare will "take care" of 'em.  "Hey, Vinnie, this is Barry...got a job for ya..."

Soul Glow's picture

The dude in the pic is wearing sunglasses at night.  

What a d-bag.

No Warranty's picture

No, that would be the generation before them. Boomers are going to live to see oil become "precious" once again.