The U.S. Census Bureau says in a new report that 1 in every 6 older Americans is childless, and that proportion is likely to grow in the years ahead.
The trend raises questions about the economic resources and services that could be needed in the future for an aging population without immediate family members to rely on for support.
Of the 92.2 million older adults 55 years and older in 2018, 15.2 million (16.5%) were childless, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report released Tuesday. Most childless older adults are non-Hispanic white and native-born. Older men are also more likely than older women to be childless after age 55.
Childlessness is more prevalent among the younger cohort of older adults, which suggests childless adults will comprise a larger share of the older adult population in the years ahead. The report said that 19.6% percent of all adults 55 to 64 were childless, compared to 15.9% percent of those age 65 to 74, and 10.9% percent of those 75 and older.
“Changing demographic patterns, such as the aging of the population and increases in childlessness, alongside a growing trend of older people living alone, raise new questions about the experiences of older childless Americans as they navigate their later years, and whether they will have the support they may need in their oldest years,” the report said.
The report Childless Older Americans: 2018 used data from the 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine socioeconomic status and demographic characteristics, potential caregiving and financial support from family and the community, and the health and well-being of childless older adults.