U.S. Elderly to Double in 25 Years

ByABC News
February 5, 2002, 5:09 PM

Feb. 6 -- The U.S. elderly population will grow by nearly 80 percent in the next 25 years a "graying" trend that's only more pronounced in other developed countries, according to a government report released today.

By 2025, as the U.S. elderly population nearly doubles, the number of working-age adults and children will increase by only 15 percent, says the U.S. Census Bureau analysis. The number of people aged 65 and over throughout the world also will nearly double by 2025, while the number of children will increase just 3 percent.

Though it has only about one-fourth the total population of India, the United States has more people aged 80 and over and is second only to China in that category.

The United States is among many developed countries with low-fertility rates that will be confronted in the coming decades with growing elderly populations and fewer workers entering the labor force, the analysis said.

"One of the major challenges is going to be in supporting the growing elderly population during a time period when shorter cohorts of workers are entering the labor force," said Thomas McDevitt, a demographer with the population division of the U.S. Census Bureau. "The U.S. unfortunately must face that kind of a problem in the next quarter century."

Italy Is the World's Oldest Nation

The United States, however, is better positioned to handle the graying of its population than other developed countries in the world such as Japan and some European nations, McDevitt said, because it has a slightly higher fertility rate and higher immigration rates.

Italy is the world's grayest country the working age population is expected to contract by 41 percent over the next half-century. Eighteen percent of Italians have celebrated at least a 65th birthday, according to the National Institute on Aging.

"Less developed" countries also will see their 65-plus populationgrow by 130 percent, but they'll also see a 44 percent increase in working-agepopulation and 5 percent boost in children.