by Mark DiMaio
Only one age demographic of Delawareans is expected to grow significantly over the next 33 years and that’s our 65+ population. According to Ed Ratledge, Director of the Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research at the University of Delaware, research shows that Delaware’s 65+ population will increase by roughly 60% from 159,000 in 2015 to an estimated 263,532 by 2050. National surveys show that the average US wage earner’s income peaks around age 55 and decreases considerably as the earners approach age 65. Delaware relies heavily on personal income taxes (PIT) to fund state government and the state’s two largest population groups, 20-44 and 45-64 (2015), provide a high percentage of the state’s PIT collections. Those two age groups are only projected to increase by 20,000 over the next 30 years while the 65+ population will increase by over 100,000. How will an additional 100,000 seniors affect the state and its future budgets?
A storm is coming. Our increasing 65+ population, that historical provides less PIT and coupled with an increased need for services will put a strain on Delaware’s future budgets. How is Delaware preparing for this drastic population change? What can Delaware do proactively to lessen the impact of the demographic shift? Many tough decisions lay ahead for present and future elected officials. Delaware already faces a structural budget situation where state expenditures out pace revenues for the foreseeable future.