America’s 65+ Population Will Double to 88 Million in 2050

America’s 65+ Population Will Double to 88 Million in 2050

The world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Today, 8.5% of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over. According to a new report by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, “An Aging World: 2015,”  this percentage is projected to jump to nearly 17% of the world’s population by 2050 (1.6 billion). The report examines the demographic, health and socioeconomic trends accompanying the growth of the aging population.

“An Aging World: 2015” contains detailed information about life expectancy, gender balance, health, mortality, disability, health care systems, labor force participation and retirement, pensions and poverty among older people around the world. Below are a few highlights.

  • America’s 65-and-over population is projected to nearly double over the next three decades, from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.
  • By 2050, global life expectancy at birth is projected to increase by almost eight years, climbing from 68.6 years in 2015 to 76.2 years in 2050.
  • The global population of the “oldest old” — people aged 80 and older — is expected to more than triple between 2015 and 2050, growing from 126.5 million to 446.6 million. The oldest old population in some Asian and Latin American countries is predicted to quadruple by 2050.
  • Among the older population worldwide, noncommunicable diseases are the main health concern. In low-income countries, many in Africa, the older population faces a considerable burden from both noncommunicable and communicable diseases.
  • Risk factors — such as tobacco and alcohol use, insufficient consumption of vegetables and fruit, and low levels of physical activity — directly or indirectly contribute to the global burden of disease. Changes in risk factors have been observed, such as a decline in tobacco use in some high-income countries, with the majority of smokers worldwide now living in low- and middle-income countries.

See the full report and news release at http://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/worlds-older-population-grows-dramatically.

For more information on NIA, the government entity charged with conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people, see www.nia.nih.gov.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.