Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 Report on Aging in 2050

Photo by Sam Howzit.
Granted, projections are just educated guesses, but I find them interesting.  Government programs are particularly interested in the future of aging, so various agencies produce reports from time to time.

Here are some highlights from a May 2014 report An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States published by the United States Census Bureau.   The report compares 2012 statistics on age, gender, and race and makes projections to 2030 and 2050.

This report interests me because these are years that I was 50, will be 68 and will be 88 (God willing).  And I'm one of the youngest Baby Boomers, so that will tell you how this large cohort will be aging in the next few decades.

But enough about me. Let's look at some of the report's numbers. 

The U.S. Population as a whole is projected to grow from 314 million in 2012 to 400 million in 2050.

Those 65 and older in the US will grow from 13.7% of the population in 2012 to 20.9% in 2050.

Those 85 and over are projected to grow from 1.9% of the population in 2012 to 4.5% in 2050.

The aggregated minority population is projected to become the majority in 2043.

Here are some specific projections for race.

  • Whites were 86% of those 65 and older in 2012. They are projected to fall to 82.2% by 2030 and fall again to 77.3% by 2050.  
  • Asians were only 3.8% of those 65 and older in 2012. They are projected to rise to 4.8% in 2030 and rise again to 7.1% in 2050. 
  • Blacks were only 8.8% of those 65 and older in 2012. They are projected to rise to 10.7% in 2030 and rise again to 12.3% by 2050.
  • Hispanics were only 7.3% of those 65 and older in 2012. They are projected to rise to 11% in 2030 and rise again to 18.4% in 2050. 
White and Asian women who live until 65 by 2012 are estimated to have another 20.7 years remaining.  Those who live until 65 by 2050 are estimated to have another 23.5 years of life.  (The full report shows slightly lower number for white men and for all blacks and Hispanics men. Hispanic women have slightly higher remaining years in these projections.)

The dependency ratio (those of working age vs dependent children or retired older adults) will shift.   When Boomers where children in 1960, the dependency ration was 65 children and 17 older adults to every 100 working adult.  By 2050, the projections are 37 children and 36 older adults to every 100 working adults.

The focus of this post is on US projections; however, the report also makes projections for several other foreign countries.  Most notably, China, India and Indonesia are projected to have significant growth in their aging populations.  See the report for more details about these countries.

These numbers lead to questions about how the United States will have enough funding and services to support their aging population.  I don't have easy answers, but I hope that we can work together to increase quality of life and increase support to family caregivers and increase training and funding to formal caregivers.


Life Span vs. Life Expectancy


  1. Those numbers suggest that there should be a major shift of funding away from young people in favor of supporting older people. Somehow I don't think that's going to happen ... nor do I think it would be particularly wise. So what are we gonna do?

    One question: Increasingly I find it hard to figure out who is black, white, hispanic or asian, since everyone is mixing more and more. IMHO, this is a good thing.

  2. Wow! Good to know I'm in solid company! And yet, the advertisers don't seem to get it. We are the largest generation with expendable income and the time to spend it. It seems that Viking Cruise Lines, along with medical suppliers are just a handful of firms catering to us old farts...speaking for myself, of course. I'm saving this article...great info here!