This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Americans Grow Older

The 2010 Census data have confirmed the fact that the US population is getting older. The New York Times summarized the data as follows:
Elderly people are now a greater portion of the population than at any time since the government began keeping track, with those age 65 and older rising to 13 percent of the population over the past decade, the Census Bureau said.
Keep in mind that, despite this record high, the US is lowest among the rich countries in this regard. In Japan, for example, 23 percent of the population is 65+. Still, we are heading into uncharted territory.
The fastest growing group was those ages 65 to 69, up by a third from 2000. That group will expand even more rapidly in the decade to come, starting in 2011, as baby boomers begin to turn 65.
Indeed, the fastest growing group in the US (not just among the older population) is currently people in their 50s. At the same time, the US is unique among rich countries in the size of its youth population, as I noted in an interview with Elizabeth Aguilera of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

With more and more baby boomers retiring — and thus paying less taxes — government funds dedicated to seniors will shrink, at least until enough younger workers enter the workforce, said John Weeks, a demographer at San Diego State University. Despite the tough transition, he said, it is a better situation compared to Japan, China and other countries that mostly have an aging citizenry.
“We in the U.S. do have an increasing number of young people as a consequence of the children of immigrants,” Weeks said. “There is a large group of young adults that, if they are properly educated and are able to get themselves situated in the labor market, will support the older group.”

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