The world’s 65-and-older population will triple by mid-century to 1 in 6 people, leaving the U.S. and other nations struggling to support the elderly according to census estimates released. The number of senior citizens has already jumped 23 percent since 2000 to 516 million, more than double the growth rate for the general population.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S., residents who are 65 and older currently make up 13 percent of the population, but that will double to 88.5 million by mid-century. In two years, the oldest of the baby boomers will start turning 65. The baby boomer bulge will continue padding the senior population year after year, growing to 1 in 5 U.S. residents by 2030.
"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 Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In the U.S., immigration of younger residents has helped slow aging of the total population. Still, Medicare is projected to become insolvent by 2017, and President Barack Obama has said that overhauling Social Security and Medicare is critical. There is a concern that making reforms will risk alienating a 65-and-older voting group by cutting benefits or their younger generation by raising payroll taxes.
"As they age, boomer support on issues like Medicare and retirement security will be just as key for continued Democratic success as the party’s hold on younger minority voters," said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution, citing higher voting rates among seniors who could prove important in key states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri.