We’re growing older as a society.
Our youth population is shrinking, while senior citizens multiply.
Just-released U.S. Census Bureau estimates show Stanislaus County’s overall population has barely budged in recent years, growing a mere 2 percent from 2010 to 2013.
But the numbers for those 65 and older expanded nearly 12 percent during those years, adding 6,484 to Stanislaus’ senior ranks.
The county’s under-18 crowd, by contrast, declined more than 1 percent, losing nearly 1,636 children since 2010.
The drop-off in teenagers 14 to 17 years old was particularly sharp: down 4.2 percent, for a loss of 1,435 teens. That’s roughly equal to the enrollment of a Stanislaus high school.
The aging of Stanislaus’ population is nothing new, and it’s happening nationwide as the post-World War II baby boomers grow old.
Back in 1990, census takers calculated that Stanislaus residents’ median age was 30.5, meaning about half the county’s population was under 30 years old. By last year, Stanislaus’ median age had climbed to 33.5 years old.
By comparison to the rest of the United States, however, the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s population is young. America’s median age is now 37.6 years old.
Compare that with Merced County, where the median age is just 30.4 years old. The median is 33.4 years in San Joaquin County.
It’s a different story in the Sierra foothills, where Tuolumne County’s median age increased to 48.3 years and Calaveras County’s median hit 51.
Only seven states in the nation had their populations grow younger last year. Census officials think they know why that was true for North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Oklahoma.
“The population in the Great Plains energy boom states is becoming younger and more male as workers move in seeking employment in the oil and gas industry,” explained Census Bureau Director John Thompson, “while the U.S. as a whole continues to age as the youngest of the baby boom generation enters their 50s.”
Even though America as a whole is aging, it continues to be women who are living the longest.
Like most places on Earth, more boys are born in Stanislaus than girls. Boys make up 51.3 percent of children in the county, compared to the 48.7 percent who are girls.
But that 2.6 percentage point edge gradually fades as those boys become men. By age 40, the number of men and women are about equal in Stanislaus. After that, women compose the majority.
The older the age, the more women dominate. For Stanislaus residents over 85 years old, 64.2 percent are female.