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Press Release · November 14, 2000

New Analysis: California’s Aging Population

In the next thirty years, California will experience explosive growth in its population of retirement-age residents, according to a new analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). This aging population could create fiscal challenges for state and local governments in California, which provide many services to older residents.

In Graying in the Golden State: Demographic and Economic Trends of Older Californians, authors Sonya Tafoya and Hans Johnson report that by 2030, one in every three Californians will be over the age of 50, and the proportion of those over 65 will have increased to 17 percent from 11 percent in 1998. “In total numbers, the population of people over 65 in California will grow from 3.6 million to 8.9 million,” says Johnson, a research fellow and demographer at PPIC. “The aging baby boomer generation and longer life expectancies among the elderly will contribute to this surge in the older population.”

Key Findings

  • The graying of California will be accompanied by an increase in the number of children. Unlike the rest of the nation, in thirty years the state may find itself in the unenviable position of providing services to a population that is concentrated at both ends of the age spectrum. State and local governments will be forced to depend on a smaller proportion of working age people to support programs for residents over 65 and under 18.

  • Only about half of all jobs in California offer pension and retirement plan benefits, significantly less than in the rest of the nation.

  • Today’s older Californians are relatively well-off financially and have lower poverty rates than other age groups (below 10 percent). The majority derive more than 70 percent of their income from Social Security.

  • When they retire, most female baby boomers will have had lower incomes than men, will have experienced more frequent career interruptions, and will have less retirement savings.

Please contact Victoria Pike Bond at 415/291-4412 or Abby Cook at 415/291-4436 for further information or assistance. The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to objective, nonpartisan research on economic, social, and political issues that affect the lives of Californians. The Institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett.