Fact Sheet

Federal Policy Changes Would Threaten the Well-Being of Older Californians, With Harm Magnified as the Population Ages


The underlying data for this Fact Sheet are available for download. These include county population data for four age groups: age 65 or older; ages 65 to 74; ages 75 to 84; and age 85 or older.


Older adults are one of the many groups facing significant threats to their social and economic well-being from federal policy changes that could be enacted by the Trump Administration and its allies in Congress. Such changes would have a major impact on California given that the state is home to nearly 1 in 9 of all adults age 65 or older in the US. Plus, the harm caused by federal policy changes would likely be magnified in coming years as California’s population ages, increasing the need for health care and other public services and supports that contribute to people’s well-being late in life. The number of state residents age 65 or older is projected to rise from nearly 5.5 million in 2016 to almost 9.1 million in 2030, an increase of two-thirds (66.1%) — more than 20 times the projected percentage growth in the population under age 65 (3.1%).[1] Even faster growth is anticipated among the oldest seniors — those age 75 or older — who tend to have greater health care needs and are more likely to face economic hardship.[2]

In some parts of California, growth in the older adult population is projected to far outpace growth statewide, suggesting that federal policy changes could have an outsize impact in certain regions. Specifically:

  • Adults age 65 or older are projected to make up at least one-quarter of residents in 20 counties by 2030, up from just 8 counties in 2016 (see maps 1 and 2 below). This means that the number of counties where at least 1 in 4 people is over age 64 is expected to more than double during this 14-year period. Places with the largest projected share of older adults in 2030 include counties in the Sierra Nevada, far north, northern Bay Area, and northern coastal region. Statewide, one in five people (20.6%) is projected to be age 65 or older in 2030, up from 13.6% in 2016.
  • The number of adults age 65 or older is projected to increase by at least 50% in more than half of California’s 58 counties between 2016 and 2030 (see map 3 below). In one county, Mono, the number of older Californians is expected to more than double during this period. In five counties, the older adult population is projected to increase by at least 75%, but less than 100%. These include both Inland Empire counties (Riverside and San Bernardino), two Bay Area counties (Contra Costa and Solano), and San Benito County. In another 26 counties, the number of older adults is projected to rise by at least 50% but less than 75%. These include many counties in the Central Valley and greater Sacramento region as well as all counties along the central and southern coast.

Download county population data for four age groups: age 65 or older, ages 65 to 74, ages 75 to 84, and age 85 or older.

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

 

[1] Budget Center analysis of Department of Finance data. The population under age 65 is projected to increase from approximately 33.9 million in 2016 to roughly 34.9 million in 2030.

[2] Between 2016 and 2030, the number of Californians ages 75 to 84 is projected to increase by 100.0%, while the number age 85 or older is projected to rise by 70.6%. In contrast, the number of Californians ages 65 to 74 is projected to increase by 48.2%.