With births declining and medical advances extending life spans, the population of people age 65 and older in the U.S. will rise from 13% today to 20% by 2030 and 26% by 2050, the Census Bureau announced Tuesday.
By comparison, worldwide, only 8% of the worlds population is currently 65 or older, and that is only expected to reach 16% by 2050.
Since 2000, the number of senior citizens in the U.S. has jumped more than double the rate of the general population to 526 million.
This shift in the age structure of the worlds population poses challenges to society, families, businesses, healthcare providers and policymakers to meet the needs of aging individuals, said Wan He, demographer in the Census Bureaus population division.
The 2020s for most of the developed world will be an era of fiscal crisis, with a real long-term stagnation in economic growth and ugly political battles over old-age benefits cuts, said Richard Jackson, director of the global aging initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Associated Press. In emerging countries like China, they will face the real prospect of a humanitarian aging crisis.
The elderly currently comprise 16% of the working population in China. That is set to reach 32% by 2025 and an astounding 61% by 2050. Because of a China policy that limits most families to a single child, the nations pension system will be unable to cover all of its elderly population, Jackson said. That could potentially affect the global economy, as millions of Chinese face the risk of falling into poverty and creating social and political unrest.