A recent U.S. Census Bureau report on the increasingly aging population had some surprisingly good news for the United States, such as:
– Although the percentage of the U.S. population 65 and older is expected to grow from the current 12 percent to about 20 percent by 2030, the U.S. is relatively young compared with other developed countries. In many countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, between 16 and 18 percent of the population already is 65 or older.
– Average life expectancy at birth has risen from 47.3 years in 1900 to 76.9 years in 2000.
– Disability among the older population is declining. Studies over the past two decades have revealed substantial declines in rates of disability and functional limitations, the Census Bureau said.
– The percentage of older Americans living in poverty has improved. In 1959, 35 percent of people age 65 and older lived below the poverty line. By 2003, the proportion had decreased to 10 percent.
– In 1950, just 17 percent of the older population had graduated from high school and 3 percent had at least a bachelor's degree. But by 2003, 72 percent were high school graduates and 17 percent had at least a bachelor's degree.
All of this means, the Census Bureau said, that the future older population is likely to be better educated than the current older population. The increased levels of education may accompany better health, higher incomes and more wealth, leading consequently to higher standards of living.