March 15 (UPI) -- For the first time, the number of American seniors will outnumber American children in just 12 years, U.S. Census information projects.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the year 2030 will be a historic turning point for the population, because that's when all baby boomers will surpass age 65 -- and mean 1 in 5 Americans will be of retirement age.
"The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history," U.S. Census Bureau Demographer Jonathan Vespa said. "By 2035, there will be 78 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18."
The term "baby boomer" refers to the generation born after World War II, from 1946 to 1964.
Births rose from an all-time low in 1936 of 75.8 children per 1,000 women to a high of 122.7 in 1957. The number of births fell again in the 1960s to a new low of 65 children per 1,000 women.
The Census noted that 2030 will also be a milestone because international migration is projected to become the primary driver of population growth for the first time.
"Between 2020 and 2050, the number of deaths is projected to rise substantially as the population ages and a significant share of the population, the baby boomers, age into older adulthood," the census report said. "As a result, the population will naturally grow very slowly, leaving net international migration to overtake natural increase as the leading cause of population growth, even as projected levels of migration remain relatively constant."
Census projections also show the population will become more racially and ethnically diverse. By 2020, slightly less than half the children in the United States are projected to be non-Hispanic white.