The U.S. Census Bureau released demographic data last week highlighting the aging population across the country, which has contributed to a growing proportion of individuals who are potentially dependent on others. 

A state’s dependent population can be calculated by combining the percentage of individuals under the age of 18 with the percentage of individuals above the age of 65. These demographics are typically not expected to work, whereas those between ages 18 and 65 are.

However, this does not take into account individuals with circumstances apart from age that render them dependent, such as those with mental or physical disabilities, college students who are still supported by their parents, working-age people who receive entitlements from the government and choose not to work, and working-age people who do some work but still rely on the government or others for assistance.

It also does not take into account individuals younger than 18 or older than 65 who do work.

Nevertheless, the portion of a state’s dependent population to its overall population could be an important metric to follow as the family is in decline, religious institutions lose membership, birth rates are falling, savings are being depleted by inflation, and the poor, elderly and public employees are increasingly becoming dependent on the state and federal governments for sustenance. 

On average, a state’s dependent population comprised 39.3% of its population.

The states whose dependent populations made up the largest percentage of the total population were South Dakota (42.2%), Idaho (42%), Montana (41.5%), Wyoming (41.2%) and Iowa (41.2%). 

The states whose dependent populations made up the smallest percentage of the total population included Colorado (36.9%), Massachusetts (36.9%), California (37.9%), New York (37.3%) and Rhode Island (37.4%). Washington, D.C.’s dependent population was only 29.2% of its total population.

Alabama ranked somewhere in the middle with a dependent population of 39.6%. This is up from 37.5% in 2010 and 38.3% in 2000. 

Like most other places in the United States, Alabama’s median age also increased as the relatively -populous baby boomer generation grew older. It has gone up by 1.8 years since 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, it had increased by 2.1 years. 

In most Alabama counties, dependents constituted over 40% of the population. Some counties, such as Covington and Lamar Counties, had dependent populations as high as 43%. 

Nevertheless, counties with major universities, like Lee and Tuscaloosa Counties, had dependent populations below 35%, and counties with metro areas, like Jefferson, Shelby, Madison and Montgomery Counties, all had dependent populations below 40%.

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