Is America Ready for an Aging Population?
It is not as if we did not know it was coming -- but new data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests an America that is aging, with people generally living longer. According to the Census Bureau:
- Between 2010 and 2020, median age in the U.S. grew older due to an increase in the older population.
- In 2020, there were 55.8 million people age 65 and over in the United States (16.8% of the total population), up 38.6% from 40.3 million in 2010. This growth primarily reflected the aging baby boom cohort.
- Centenarians grew 50% since 2010, the fastest recent census-to-census percent change for that age group.
- For people age 70 and over, the male population experienced a larger growth rate between 2010 and 2020 (42.2%) than females (29.5%).
- In 1970, after all the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) had been born, half of the population was younger than 28.1 years old. By 2020, the median age was 38.8, an increase of more than 10 years over the past five decades.
- In 2020, the population age 45 and over accounted for 42% of the total population, up from 27% in 1940, the census before the Baby Boom began.
- The share of the population age 65 and over more than doubled between 1940 and 2020, from less than 7% to nearly 17%.
- Among the states in 2020:
- Fourteen states had a median age over 40, twice as many as in 2010.
- Twenty-five states had higher shares of population age 65 and older than Florida had in 2010 (17.3%), when it had the highest share of any state. In 2020, Maine had the highest share at 21.8%, followed by Florida (21.2%) and Vermont (20.6%).
These statistics tell a cautionary story when it comes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. With a burgeoning older population, a looming question about these social programs is, of course, their solvency. The statistics have other implications; for example, there will be a greatly expanded need for caregivers to serve aging Americans in their homes, as well as an increase in the availability of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
It is important to understand that this is not just occurring in the U.S. but around the world. According to the World Health Organization:
By 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or over. At this time the share of the population aged 60 years and over will increase from 1 billion in 2020 to 1.4 billion. By 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older will double (2.1 billion). The number of persons aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 to reach 426 million.
While this shift in distribution of a country's population towards older ages – known as population ageing – started in high-income countries (for example in Japan 30% of the population is already over 60 years old), it is now low- and middle-income countries that are experiencing the greatest change. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population over 60 years will live in low- and middle-income countries.
Is America -- and the rest of the world -- ready to meet the challenges associated with an aging population?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.com
HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog