A More Diverse Virginia Includes an Aging Population

Jan 2, 2018

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Virginia is becoming more diverse, and the birth rate is declining. But one demographic trend stands out as the most prominent change.

The Old Dominion is getting older every day. Literally. Hamilton Lombard at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA says the aging of the Baby Boomers is causing the population over the age of 65 to explode.

“We’re seeing the 65 plus population grow fairly rapidly in Virginia and across the U.S. And by 2030, it’s expected to be twice as high as it was in 2010, making about one in five Virginians should be over 65.”

That has a ripple effect across all age groups; slowing growth in the working-age population. The trend is most pronounced in rural areas.

“If you have a lot of people aging into their 50’s and their 60’s, often there aren’t enough people coming in who are in their 20’s. So you see the labor force declining. And if you don’t have a growing labor force, quite often you have fewer families and fewer kids. So on top of that you see the school enrollment decline.”

Lombard says rural areas like Charles City County already look like Virginia will look win 2030. That means urban areas should look to rural communities for solutions on how they have adapted to their aging populations.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.