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What does an aging population mean to the U.S.?

Our popoultion is aging!
Our popoultion is aging!
Photo courtesy of Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

The latest numbers (2012) from the U.S. Census Bureau say there are about 43.1 million senior citizens in the United States. However, they project the number of older Americans will almost double, reaching 83.7 million by 2050. They’ll comprise about 20% of the entire population by 2030. How will this impact our future?

It’s widely known that the aging of one of the largest generations in our history, the “Baby Boomers,” is the primary reason for this huge and rapid acceleration. In 2012, they accounted for about 24.3% of the total population.

There are many other characteristics about Baby Boomers that make them unique. They are more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations. Over the years, these numbers will substantially increase.

Additionally, unlike previous generations, starting in 2030 their numbers will decrease. It's partially due to these factors: waning numbers after hitting their peak, mortality, fertility trends, and immigration. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note that by 2030, increases in longevity (among other things) will help make up for what may have been a larger reduction.

Age structure changes in the U.S.’s population will substantially impact many sectors of our landscape. They will be social and economic, as well as private, and public. Those most affected will be the services and providers in these arenas: commerce, finance medicine and healthcare, social services, plus national and local policymakers and programs.

For example, as the earliest Baby Boomers have and still are reaching 65, government officials are bemoaning the ramifications felt by Medicare and Social Security. The financial burden alone is overwhelming. Imagine what it might be like when their largest segment of them gets that age.

The CDC says in the healthcare field, businesses and providers are already seeing huge differences in supply and demand that harbinger more changes over an entire industry. Add to that modifications required in others like food and packaging, plus advertising, marketing, banking, clothing, etc.

Trends already herald many variations in real estate: how, what, and why we buy and/or sell, loan structures, mortgage terms, and zoning. Not so surprisingly, The Villages, Florida (a retirement community,) was the fastest-growing community metro-area in the U.S. in 2013!

As our population ages, it’s safe to say we can expect just about everything to change. Our world will be different from the way we know it today. Perhaps, as our lifestyles also change, we’ll hardly notice many differences.

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