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Older, more impoverished U.S. looms as population ages
Demographic forecasts predict that by mid-century, the United States will be home to many more elderly people and more of them are expected to be poor. - photo by Lois M Collins
Demographic forecasts suggest that by mid-century, a greater share of the United States population will be elderly. And it also predicts that more of those senior citizens will live in poverty.

According to Mark Funkhouser on, America's senior citizens have been in relatively good financial shape compared to the late 1960s, reflecting the gains made financially by the elderly because of Social Security, personal savings and pensions. The latter two, he noted, have become less of a factor as fewer companies offer pensions and savings have decreased.

"Those days of a rising and stable middle class are gone, of course. Beginning in the 1970s and accelerating after 1980, union membership declined sharply, and with it private-sector pensions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 22 percent of private-sector workers now have a defined-pension benefit, compared to 42 percent in 1990. And personal savings, which took a massive hit during the Great Recession, have not recovered," Funkhouser wrote. "Nearly half of all workers over the age of 50 and three in five retirees have less than $25,000 in savings and investments, according to research from AARP. On top of all that, todays older residents are carrying significant and increasing amounts of mortgage, credit card and even student-aid debt."

He suggests that governments should be looking at the issue to protect the safety net supports that elderly Americans will need, such as Social Security and Medicare. While individuals can delay retirement and keep working in order to put off tapping into benefits, including retirement savings, individuals continue to grow older, he said.

According to the Census Bureau, America is expected to age somewhat more slowly than some parts of the world, although the numbers of elderly are growing.

"Americas 65-and-over population is projected to nearly double over the next three decades, ballooning from 48 million to 88 million by 2050. However, the U.S. Census Bureau projects the U.S. population will age at a slower rate compared with other countries," the bureau recently announced.

"Worldwide, the 65-and-over population will more than double to 1.6 billion by 2050, according to An Aging World: 2015. This new report from the Census Bureau examines the continuing global aging trend and projected growth of the population age 65 and over, with an emphasis on the differences among world regions," it said, adding that in 2015, 14.9 percent of the U.S. population was at least 65 years old.

The bureau noted that the share of the population that is old-old, those 80 and older, is growing at a faster rate than those in their late 60s through 70s.
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