Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More Seniors than Ever: Population Pyramids

Photo by Nestor_PS
Every society has a shape for how the various generations relate to each other.  

The shape of these charts might change from decade to decade due to an array of factors:

birth rates, disease, immigration, famine, war, public sanitation, availability of health care, availability of reliable birth control, etc.

Demographers often call these multigenerational charts "population pyramids."  

The shape of the United State's population pyramid is moving to look more less like a pyramid and more like a rocket because of a number of factors. 

Briefly stated, Americans are having fewer children, leading to smaller cohorts in recent generations. Today's older Americans are living longer than their grandparents, increasing the average life expectancy.  

The charts below demonstrate how the Boomers--who are middle aged in the 2000 pyramid--will experience greater life expectancy (in the 2025 projection) at the same time that fewer children are born in the upcoming generations. 

In other words, we'll see a graying of America.  (Click on the charts to make them a bit larger.)

What is the significance of this change? There are many ways to answer that.  And some changes remain to be seen. 

One anticipated change is an increase in the age dependency ratio. 

Demographers are working on projections for the age dependency ratio.  For example, unless people start working full time into their 80s and 90s, there will be fewer working people in relation to nonworking older adults:

“The U.S. Census Bureau reported [in May 2010] that the dependency ratio, or the number of people 65 and older to every 100 people of traditional working ages, is projected to climb rapidly from 22 in 2010 to 35 in 2030. This time period coincides with the time when baby boomers are moving into the 65 and older age category. After 2030, however, the ratio of the aging population to the working-age population (ages 20 to 64) will rise more slowly, to 37 in 2050. The higher this old-age dependency ratio, the greater the potential burden.”

It might help to look at raw numbers instead of percentages. 

The Pew Research Center reports that the US had 37 million people 65+ in 2005 and that this category will grow to 81 million by 2050. 

There will be more job demand in fields related to elder care, social services for older adults and recreation for older adults.   Over the next couple of decades, older adults will become more visible to advertisers, media outlets and politicians.   

During the upcoming decades, how will older adults and the generations below them work together? I'm expecting to see some positive collaboration and exciting innovations in 

I hope to see you working with other generations for a better tomorrow. 


Long-term Care More Probable As We Age
Older Americans 2012 Federal Report
May-December Romance: Why Is This Joke Funny?

Life Span (122) vs Life Expectancy (83)

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