3. Aging

The estimated population median age in 2009 was 36.8, up from 35.3 in 2000--a natural consequence of 77 million baby boomers pulling that figure upward with every passing year. The birth rate has also been relatively flat since the 1970s, and in 2009 posted the largest two-year drop in over 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Altogether, the elderly segment of the population is expected to increase dramatically. A Congressional Research Service report released this year projected that people 65 and older--currently constituting 13 percent of the population--would make up 20.2 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. (Above: Four sisters watch a Cubs game in this 2003 file photo, just like they did growing up in Chicago.)
Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune
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