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Census Projects Older American Population to Become More Diverse

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Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly –

(NNPA) - The U.S. Census Bureau reported today 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.

The projections are not based on 2010 Census results. Rather, they project 2000 Census counts forward using components of population change — births, deaths and net international migration.

The expected steep rise in the dependency ratio over the next two decades reflects the projected proportion of people 65 and older climbing from 13 percent to 19 percent of the total population over the period, with the percentage in the 20 to 64 age range falling from 60 percent to 55 percent.

“This rapid growth of the older population may present challenges in the next two decades,” said Victoria Velkoff, assistant chief for estimates and projections for the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “It’s also noteworthy that those 85 and older — who often require additional caregiving and support — would increase from about 14 percent of the older population today to 21 percent in 2050.”

The findings are contained in the report, “The Next Four Decades: The Older Population in the United States: 2010 to 2050,” which presents information on how the age structure of the overall population and the composition of the older population in terms of age, sex, race and Hispanic origin are expected to change over the next four decades. The report provides an analysis of national population projections released in August 2008.

According to the report, minorities would comprise 42 percent of the 65 and older population in 2050, more than double the proportion they comprise today (20 percent). Likewise, among those 85 and older, 33 percent are projected to be minority in 2050, up from 15 percent in 2010. (In the report, the minority population refers to people who are other than non-Hispanic, single-race White).

Other highlights include:

The percentage of the 65 and older population that is Hispanic would rise from seven percent today to 20 percent in 2050. In absolute terms, it would increase more than sixfold — from 2.9 million to 17.5 million. At the same time, among those 85 and older, the Hispanic population would increase more than ninefold, from 305,000 to 2.9 million.

Among those 65 and older, 12 percent are expected to be single-race Black and nine percent Asian in 2050, up from nine percent and 3 percent, respectively, in 2010. In addition, 77 percent are projected to be white alone, down from about 87 percent in 2010.

The least populous race groups are projected to see large growth relative to their populations. The older multiracial population, for instance, would increase from 278,000 in 2010 to 1.3 million in 2050.

The multiracial population will continue to be the youngest population, as the 65 and older percentage would rise from 5.1 percent today to 7.8 percent in 2050.

With the projected more rapid increase in the life expectancy for men over the next several decades, women would comprise a smaller percentage of older people: 57 percent of those 65 and older today, 55 percent in 2050. Among those 85 and older, the drop would be even larger (from 67 percent to 61 percent).

This report is based on the projections released in August 2008. In December 2009, the Census Bureau released a set of four national projections supplementing the series released in August 2008, showing projections to 2050 by age, race, sex and Hispanic origin. These four scenarios assume either high, low, constant or zero international migration between 2000 and 2050. The August 2008 projections remain the preferred series for users.

This article was originally published in the May 24, 2010 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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