America Does Not Really Have a Big Aging Problem


This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the Census Bureau released a report on America’s aging population today, and the basic takeaway is something we already know: as the Baby Boomers age, our population is going to get steadily older. However, what’s less widely recognized is that this is only true for the next couple of decades. After 2030, our elderly population stabilizes at about one-third the size of the working-age population.

In other words, all the Sturm und Drang over Social Security aside, our demographic problem isn’t really that bad. What’s more, compared to other countries, our outlook is positively sunny. Take a look at the red bars in the chart on the right. They show the projected size of the elderly population in various developed countries in 2050, and the United States is in by far the best shape. Our elderly population stabilizes in 2030 at about 21 percent of the total population, a number that’s significantly lower than even the second-best country (Britain, at 24 percent). Most other countries not only have elderly populations that are far larger, but their elderly populations are growing. These countries have demographic problems.

It’s worth driving this point home: America doesn’t really have a huge aging problem. We have a very moderate aging problem, which could be handled in the federal budget with fairly modest changes to Social Security and Medicare. What we do have is a health care problem. But that’s a problem for us all.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate