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.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Kelley's picture

The road you refer to is a cul de sac this time. 

Kelley's picture

The most ominous stat of all is #23.

According to the Wall Street Journal from late 2012, 30% of all teens in the US are on AT LEAST one prescription drug LONG TERM. We can be pretty sure those 30% will be on multiple drugs in the next few years.

IOW, they will be like today's seniors. In 10 to 20 years, those 30 to 40 year olds will have morbidity (illness) rates like today's 60 year olds.

We should start to see Alzheimer's in 30 year olds!! Lots of them, in fact. For instance, cholesterol drugs cause amnesia and dementia, and diabetes. Alzheimers is considered by some to be Type III diabetes!

You know those kids working in McDonalds that seem to be slow witted as all get out? Mark my words. In 10 years or so some of them will be needing care because they won't be able to take care of themselves!

Unless this problem is fixed - and what are the chances of that - #23 is the real ass kicker.

29.5 hours's picture



The number of kids on "anti-hyperactivity" drugs is scary. It just gets worse and I see it in my extended family and neighborhood. Instead of providing decent education, we provide drugs to keep the inmates in their seats.




Jena's picture

Yeah, I've been reading about Alzheimer's as Type 3 diabetes too.  What's the likelihood that any of them will make the dietary changes of getting off sugar and wheat to reverse the physiological changes in the brain?  

Heart attacks are happening earlier too.  Statins are a lousy way to go...

No matter what generation you are, if you don't have your health you aren't going to be around to see the fireworks.

OldPhart's picture

I'm 54.  I'm of the 'Generation Jones' [born 10/01/1959], the second wave of the boomers.  We're a little different in mindset as we watched our older brothers egg returning Viet Nam Vets. 

In the 80's Reagan threw Social Security back into connedgress and asked for a solution to the obvious funding crisis that would come within a few decades.  Connedgress threw it rigjht back with a 'Fuck it' attitude.  Since then I've always envisioned my end on a death walk on some bleak desert road near where I live and envision my corpse as some dried up cadaver along a dirt road.  [It's a recurring vision since the '80's].

None of you in your 20's and 30's give a shit about me.  And rightfully so.  But I paid into this system my entire life. A quarter, or more, of my income paid into this ponzie scheme. And i've known since the 80's that it WAS a ponzie scheme.  And I participated in it so my Dad and Mom could have their retirement.

I have worked my entire life other than one short period of receiving welfare while I went to college.  I made sure it was the shortest term posible.  Bachelor of Science in Accounting in less than three years.  Taking quarters that had as high as 27 units because tuition charge stopped after twelve units.  Now I make a modest salary, less than $70k per year.

I know that you youngsters will come to the choice of letting me die on some desert road.  And I'm resigned, and accepting of that. You will have no choice.

But, please, recognize the personal sacrifice I have made.

I'm not the one that fucked you.  I was one of those that tried to mitigate your burden.

Leraconteur's picture

 But I paid into this system my entire life. 

NO YOU DID NOT. There was no system to pay into. You have no balance, there is no account, you are owed NOTHING. It was, is and always will be, a TAX. Taxes have no performance or guarantee.

That balance on your Social Security statement is just a number in a cell on an Excel spreadsheet. It does not exist. You have no account, there is no balance, you have no money that you paid in.

Who am I, OldPhart? I am a member of Generations Jones also, born 18 months after you were born. I knew at age 15 that SS would go bust and that costs would explode. Year after year no one did anything and we did not force Congress or any leader to act.

So now there is no money and you and I have to suck it up and find something to do in 'our golden years'.

That DOES NOT include making debt, tax, and wage slaves out of all of those younger than you or I.

You *could* take my lead and not be selfish and find an alternative, or you could be like every other American and selfishly demand that the younger generation become your slave because 'you paid into the system', you 'have a balance', and you 'are owed MY money'. It's 'MY MONEY'. 'I WORKED FOR IT'. I EARNED IT. I DESERVE IT.

Do me a favour and take that walk now...

Dr. Sandi's picture

Wow! Are you getting help for this condition?

Vooter's picture

"That DOES NOT include making debt, tax, and wage slaves out of all of those younger than you or I."

Oh, really? In the immortal words of Ray Liotta as Henry Hill (imitating Robert DeNiro as Jimmy Burke): "Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me."

It's every man for himself, now, you dumbass. Do you actually think that the generations that followed the Baby Boomers are somehow purer and less deserving of getting fucked in the ass by the U.S. government? LOLOLOLOL...FUCK YOU, PAY ME.

I don't care if someone was born in 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 or 2000--we're all gonna go to hell TOGETHER.

But I guess we'll just see who's going to be taking that walk down the desert road, won't we? I'll tell you what: If it's me, I'm not going alone...

Leraconteur's picture


Have fun with your social meltdown due to your selfishness.

I don't care, I am out, live in other countries.

Should I ever lose my sanity and return to the USA, I will pay you gladly.

3 to 8 grams at a time.

Vooter's picture

"I don't care, I am out, live in other countries."

Oh, is that the unselfish, alternative approach you were preaching about? LOL...too funny. Run away! Let me guess--you're living in Thailand with a young Asian woman and lots of booze. That seems to be the default position for most of the ex-pats on this site, cuz, you know, lying around doing nothing is SO MUCH FUN. What a bunch of fucking monkeys. But anyway, yeah, come on back and shoot me! I look forward to it...

OldPhart's picture

Did you not catch the 'for my mom and dad' that 'I paid into this system'....don't lecture me (my wife does that too much to put up with another asshole doing it!)

steveo77's picture

We need to fix alot of problems, however, unless we fix Fuku, any other fixes are just a ducttape.

Chernobyl Documentary 500K

This video is really good.   It shows what was known at the time.   It shows that the commanding officers really got up to speed really fast on what was needed to be done, and the risks involved.

 They sent in troops, AND hired civilians to perform a 45 second task of taking 1 shovel full of rad debris, and then running to edge of roof and throw it off.    They had to use humans because the robots were getting killed too quickly on the roof.   After that the human would be "retired" they took their maximum lifetime dose or more.   However, I also heard that some of these bio-bots as the liquidators were sometimes nicknamed, went back for 10 of these 45 second visits.

 This video is both entertaining and enlightening.


-NaN-'s picture

The solution is Soylent Green

draghithebearslayer's picture

simple. the younger generation will simply borrow more money into existence to pay for the medical bills of the older generation. then they'll stop having kids out of fear for their children being debt-slaves for the central bankers. eventually, bankers will find there's no one around to pay back the money they created out of thin air and lent out.

whirlybird rules's picture

Deliver the baby boomers to the Copenhagen Zoo.  They'll know what to do with them ;)

Bill Shockley's picture

Read all the posts, mostly useless.



29.5 hours's picture



"mostly useless..."

Of course. That's true every day. But some of the comments were definitely worth the time to compose and read.



Rising Sun's picture

Government run healthcare = line up and die


problem solved

mrdenis's picture

"So where in the world are we going to get the money to take care of all of these elderly people"......Solvent Green 

PeaBird's picture

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their  currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

– Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)

Xandrino's picture

Don't worry by 2030 there will not be a USA left...One world, one currency to rule them all!

SendMeYourWorthlessMoney's picture

There be legal doobs in WA and CO.

We'll be fine...

BiteMeBO's picture

Who's going want to be here in 2030 anyway?

zipit's picture

"Selfies 'Educating' the Creators of 'Selfies With Homeless People'"

L_Conquistador's picture

I deal with a lot of baby boomers in my business and I see them in 2 categories.  One is that group which followed the guidance of the greatest generation.  They got married, stayed married, saved and didn't spend money unnecessarily.  The other is the "me generation".  They've lived their entire lives spoiled.  They got high, got abortions, got divorces, went on multiple vacations each year and don't have anything to show for the work that they did - save for big credit card balances.  I lay the blame on their retirement crisis solely on them, and not on their dumb kids (or grandkids) who are taking selfies with homeless people.

MickV's picture

"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".


And this is exactly the reason why "government" wants to legalize millions of 3rd world rabbits. They know the ponzi is at the end.

sbfeibish's picture

2 pandemics and society's problems are solved :(

sbfeibish's picture

A war wouldn't hurt either :( :(

jbvtme's picture

i am boomer. we are cowards and clueless and we have totally fucked this planet.

AdvancingTime's picture

As a group we did fail. I'm ashamed that we have not done better. Most people would prefer to live a long life, but not too long. There is nothing wrong with a dignified death after a long life. Sadly ideas like euthanasia and even discrete breastfeeding in public still drives many Americans crazy. With people living longer and technologies ability to extend a persons life well beyond where they feel it has any "real quality" the issue of euthanasia will not go away. More on this subject below,


kenezen's picture

Bruce: America prospered from the 40's through the early 70's. It wasn't poor nor were most retirees from that era. The reason for its surpluses was it citizen outlook of hard work and "Capitalistic Application." In the 1960's almost 60% of our working population had jobs in manufacturing. Good paying jobs that continued to take care of their employees in retirement. Unfortunately our federal government as "Heavy Industry" left made no attempt to keep their production here. As the MFG jobs left, support jobs left as well. we had ghost towns. Do you remember? Our federal government did not strive to retain or win new industries by being internationally competitive. we became Services oriented. 

Japan had learned capitalism by then as did S. Korea and finally China! America depended on jobs by that time that left little residual to retire on. Had our federal government not become hostile to heavy Industry, which is not contestable, our citizens would still have jobs that include better attention to its retired citizens.

So now we have a capitalistic country turned more socialistic talking like Socialists and saying we should "control" our population. The Soviet Union did that. China under Mao did that. Do you feel incredibly good about the company you keep?

No! Let's get competitive once again! Turn our States loose from all Central Government restrictions. Let them go forth and woo all that industry without any "Socialistic Federal Restrictions," (It's provably been that way getting worse since the very late 1970's),  and within five years we will be fully employed with good career Blue Collar jobs and industry support jobs for all who want to work! Socialistic solutions don't work. Deng Xiaoping proved that in China. Japan proved that. S. Korea proved that. Socialism doesn't work. Look at our past from the 1860's through the 1960's. Look around read your history. Social solutions in a large country doesn't work!! CAPITALISM UNRESTRICTED BY CENTRAL GOVERNMENT DOES! N. Dakota***   

Raging Debate's picture

Advancing Time -

Success creates excess which in turn creates apathy. As a Gen-xer I am ashamed I didnt march on that rapist in chief Clinton. But I was pathetic. Dont feel too much guilt for being part of the imperfect human race. After apathy is dependency. We're there now too and with dependency comes tryranny. The good news is that phase is almost over too, perhaps within a decade.

AdvancingTime's picture

An American born in 1945 can expect nearly $2.2m in lifetime net transfers from the "state" far more than they pay in, and far more than any previous group. A study by the International Monetary Fund in 2011 compared the tax bills of what different age citizens pay over their lifetime with the value of the benefits that they are forecast to receive. The boomers are leaving a huge bill. More on how the young we be forced to carry this burden in the post below and how it will effect the economy.


CJHames's picture

Not to worry, Death Panels will take care of a great deal of this problem.

You'd better hope the Party you have donated to and been a registered voter of is in charge of the country at that time.  Perhaps you will be spared. Or at least given a cigarette and a last meal before they send you off.



dizzyfingers's picture

In reply to the problem, congress seems to have decided that "immigration" would solve the problem; low-skill people who come to the country for benefits will fix it.  Even with skills, that "immigrant" who may work for far less than natural-born US citizens who have family and household to support. And "immigrants" are preferred to assistance benefits over natural-born citizens?

With the number of even low-skilled, part-time jobs, declining every single day, can someone please explain how more jobless, homeless "immigrants" on welfare, helps?


OH10DESERTER's picture

34 yo w 2 kids and a wife. i am tied to the following govt dependants: 3 grandparents, mom retired from a social working govt job w pension, drunk aunt. my moms side have 8 grandkids of which; 1 is on disability, 1 is buried in student loan debt, 1 is a low level machinist, im an engineer, 2 are makers of mixed babies (both get SNAP, HUD, and whatever else), one plays video games, 1 is on disability for only having one arm. which to me is not a good enough reason. there are two great great gkids that get SS b/c they daddy was shot and killed being in the drug game. DO NOT GO TO YOUNGSTOWN OHIO FOR ANY REASON. oh and we're fucked.

Debt Slave's picture

Youngstown? OMG you poor soul. I will mention you in my prayers. God bless.

T-NUTZ's picture

Long assisted living and cemeteries

esum's picture

brain drain... will impact business moreso than the economic liability.... govt will print the $$$ needed to make payments and that $$$ will buy dogfood for those who aren't financially prepared... in fact i should start a business making canned vomit for seniors ... oh wait they already do... those liquid drinks as alt to food... that and v8 will getcha by just fine... and dont worry.... obamacare will finish off millions of seniors... ah yes sir we can check that tumor growing in the middle of your forehead in about ah 18 months... meantime jsut dont look in the morror... NEXT

esum's picture

dats what the FEMA CAMPS are for dummy.... A GENERATION EXITING VIA THE CHIMNEY.... just step in to the shower please .... NEXT 

human lampshades and soap will be all the rage for the younger gens.... 


Debt Slave's picture

I realized all of this in 1989. That's why I started SAVING in 1989. Yeah what a concept, eh? Delaying immediate gratification. No vacations to Cancun. Driving beater cars to work. Obeying Nature like the squirrels in October gathering acorns for the cold February to come.

Let it snow baby, let it effin snow.

dizzyfingers's picture

"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."

Isn't this the repeating "screw the credit system" scam? Do those who offer credit never learn? Cut off credit at a reasonably low (payable) level and the problem is solved. I have little sympathy for either party who continue to play this game.

spooz's picture

Except the biggest cause of bankruptcies isn't credit related; its high medical bills. Obamacare won't change that since most of these bankruptcies involve people who have health insurance.  Just another way to keep the lower/middle classes in their place.  And keep the pharmaceutical, insurance and corporate health care industries profitable at the expense of the poor slobs who need health care.

GoldRetriever's picture

The "genius" behind "Selfies with Homeless People" is also the asshat who started "Selfies at Funerals."

His name is Jason Feifer and he is an editor at Fast Company magazine.

Send him an email to tell him how much you enjoy his work - jason@fastcompany.com.

Better  yet, call the company office in New York @ 212-389-5300 and thank them for employing such an asshole.

An idea for his next blog, "Unemployed Selfies."   

d edwards's picture

You mean selfies at funerals like asshat 0bama did at Mandela's funeral? :)


But don't worry, 0bamacare will deny care to the sick old folks so they gradually die off-just ask Zeke Emanuel.



GoldRetriever's picture

Just called Fast Company & Mansueto Ventures (parent co.) and they refuse to provide an email address to send a complaint.

The owner is Joe Mansueto (they also own INC. magazine).

Classy bunch.


dizzyfingers's picture


Replacement numbers of natural US born vs unlimited Conress-sponsored invasion.

spooz's picture

I'm sure plenty of seniors who have seen their nesteggs decimated by the financial crisis and QE are planning to work until they die, since Medicare costs and housing eat up a large part of any social security they receive.  Problem is, there aren't enough jobs for everybody, so any employment they get will mean less employment for younger workers.

Then there are those low income workers between the ages of 55-64 who managed to save up a little, hoping to leave their homes and savings to their kids when they die (yes, most of them love their children enough to worry about their futures).  Obamacare will plunder their estates when they are forced to participate in Medicaid because other health care is unaffordable.  I guess if they get ill, they should just end it instead, if they really love their kids.


SmallerGovNow2's picture

So the demoncrat/obummercare motto for healthcare is the same as the repubes?  "Die quickly"...  Who knew?  R or D don't matter I guess it must be true...