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The graying of America

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I was looking at some actuarial tables in the Thurmond Street library when I noticed a rather startling statistic: Based on current age-adjusted mortality rates, fully 3% of the girls (and 1% of the boys) born in the USA this year, of which there will be around 1.9 million in each category, can be expected to be alive in the year 2122. Back of the enveloping tells me that means the country will be adding nearly 75,000 new centenarians every year! (There are only about 92,000 centenarians, total, in the USA at present).

Now projections for 100 years from now are kind of tricky for all sorts of reasons, so let’s look at a much closer moment in the future: the year 2060. Now you may think that still sounds like a long way off, but 2060 is as far from us in one direction as 1984 is in the other, and 1984 doesn’t seem that long ago, to me anyway.

Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Chart for 1984:

As I was saying, not that long ago if these various ear worms are telling us anything about it.

How many old people are there going to be in America when doves cry in 2060?

Total people 65 and over in the USA in 2016: 49.2 million.

Total people 65 and over projected in the USA in 2060: 94.7 million

Now let’s do the same numbers for 85 and over:

2016: 6.4 million

2060: 19 million. That’s like an entire state the size of Florida of people 85 and over! Luckily very few of them will actually be in Florida at that point, which will be largely uninhabitable (plus ca change) but they’ll have to go somewhere. Probably Michigan, which will be to fresh water what Saudi Arabia has been to oil.

OK let’s do this with people 100 years old and over:

2020: 92,000

2060: 690,000

People tend to be aware that infant and child mortality has fallen drastically over the last century, but they’re much less aware that age adjusted mortality rates among the elderly have fallen quite sharply since the 1950s.

Average annual mortality rate for everyone 85 and older in:

1950: 20.2%

2019: 13.3%

That’s a 34% decline. We’re getting way better and keeping very old people alive, as a glance at the leadership of the Democratic party attests. Just kidding, Dark Brandon. Forgive my insolence my liege.

On the flip side, the number of young people in the USA is barely going to change over this same time frame.

Total population under 18 years of age in the USA in:

2020: 74 million

2060: 80 million

I’m pretty sure this means college administrators need to increase their salaries even more, before the music stops and we all fall down.

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