WASHINGTON — Early middle age is the nation's fastest-growing population segment, with people 35 to 44 now accounting for nearly one American in seven, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
People age 85 and over are close behind in growth and are the fastest growing segment among blacks, the new study disclosed.
Overall, the population is getting increasingly older, census analyst Louisa Miller said. As of July 1, 1986, the median age of all Americans was 31.8 years, meaning half of the people were older than that and half younger. The median age was 30 years in 1980 and has been increasing steadily since 1971, when it was 27.9.
Between the 1980 national census and 1986, the number of Americans aged 35 to 44 increased 29% to 33.1 million, the Census Bureau reported in the study.
That growth reflects the maturing of the post-World War II baby boom generation, the huge group that is beginning to enter its 40s.
With a national population now estimated at 241.6 million people, the 35-44 age group constitutes about one person in seven.
In addition, the younger members of the baby boom group helped the 25-34 age group maintain its position as the largest single age segment, totaling 42.9 million in 1986. This group has grown by 15% since 1980.
Life Spans Increase
Although that 15% is a strong growth rate, it trails the performance of older Americans, who, helped by improving health care, are growing in number as life spans increase.
The 85-and-over age group, the second fastest growing, increased 24.8% to 2.8 million between 1980 and 1986. Among blacks, the increase was even greater, with the over-85 segment increasing 33.9% to 213,000 people.