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Population Aging

Racial/ethnic Differences In Population Aging In The United States

The general patterns discussed above do not capture the variability that can exist within any given population. In the United States, for example, racial and ethnic groups tend to differ in their patterns of mortality, fertility, and migration, and therefore they differ with respect to population aging. For the year 2000, the percentage of those sixty-five and older in the United States was 12.7 percent overall, but U.S. Census Bureau data suggest that 14.8 percent of the non-Hispanic white population was sixty-five or older, compared to 8.4 percent for blacks, 7.7 percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders, 7.4 percent for American Indians, Eskimo, and Aleut, and 6.0 percent for Hispanics (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Recent immigrants, who tend to be young and who thus pull down the percentage of the population that is older, influence the low figure for both Hispanics and Asians, as does their higher fertility than the non-Hispanic white population. On the other hand, blacks and American Indians tend to have both higher fertility and higher mortality than non-Hispanic whites, thus lowering the percentage that is older compared to non-Hispanic whites. Overall in 2000, non-Hispanic whites comprised 83.5 percent of all persons in the United States who were sixty-five or older, followed by blacks (8.1 percent), Hispanics (5.6 percent), Asian and Pacific Islanders (2.4 percent), and American Indians, Eskimo, and Aleut (0.4 percent).

The demographics of the older population are expected to look quite different by mid-century. Census Bureau projections suggest that by 2050 more than one in five Americans (20.4 percent) will be sixty-five or older. The percentages are projected to be 24.7 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 18.7 percent for blacks, 16.4 percent for American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut, 15.0 for Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 13.9 percent for Hispanics. In that year the older population will mirror the racial and ethnic diversity that could be seen in the shopping malls of many American cities in the year 2000, as the teenagers in the malls in 2000 grow into the older ages by 2050. This will amount to an older population that is 64.2 percent non-Hispanic white, 16.4 percent Hispanic, 12.2 percent black, 6.5 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, and 0.6 percent American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 3Population Aging - World's Oldest And Youngest Populations, Age Distribution Of A Population, Racial/ethnic Differences In Population Aging In The United States