An analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau has found that the world’s population is growing at an increased rate, which partly has to do with the fact that the older people of the world are living much longer on average than they did before.
The report found that 8.5 percent of the world’s population is in the 65 or older age range, but by the year 2050 that number could be as high as 17 percent of the population. By the same year the projected life expectancy at birth will extend from 68.6 years to 76.2 years. Between now and then the amount of people in their 80’s is expected to triple, and go from 126.5 million to 446.6 million.
This does not however, mean that just because people are living longer that they are healthy.
According to the NIA director Richard Hodes, M.D:
“Older people are a rapidly growing proportion of the world’s population,”Older people are a rapidly growing proportion of the world’s population. People are living longer, but that does not necessarily mean that they are living healthier. The increase in our aging population presents many opportunities and also several public health challenges that we need to prepare for.”
Says John Haaga, Ph.D., and the acting director of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research:
“We are seeing population aging in every country in every part of the world. Many countries in Europe and Asia are further along in the process, or moving more rapidly, than we are in the United States. Since population aging affects so many aspects of public life— acute and long-term health care needs; pensions, work and retirement; transportation; housing— there is a lot of potential for learning from each other’s experience.”
There are a wide variety of reasons why people might be living longer, but certainly part of it is tied to the fact that our healthcare continues to get better, as does our ideas about what protects the human body as we age.
Other studies have predicted that the older population will continue to diversify both ethnically and racially. People who are age 65 or older now are mostly non-Hispanic whites at 84 percent. By 2050, that number will be down to 64 percent.
Between 1959 and 1998 the amount of older Americans living in poverty went down from 35 percent to 11 percent, which is another reason why people might be living longer. Between the years of 1984 to 1999 the net worth of households led by older people went up 70 percent, which is quite noteworthy.
The rate of chronic disability in older people also declined from 24 percent in 1982 to 21 percent in 1994, which doesn’t sound huge but it is still a significant change.
The more money they have, the better chances they have to take care of themselves and keep up a healthy and active lifestyle.