Our population is getting older. This impacts many things, including our workforce, health care, and quality of life. To get a picture of what this looks like, here are some realities about our aging population and ageism:
- By 2034, older adults are projected to outnumber children in the United States for the first time in history.
- We are living longer. U.S. children born since 2007 are likely to live to 100.
- We have fewer babies. U.S. fertility rate is the lowest that it has been in 30 years.
- Colorado’s population of older adults is expected to double in number by 2050, increasing from 13.8% of the state population to 20%.
- Our workforce is aging, along with the population. People over 50 are the fastest growing segment of the labor force.
- Colorado’s unemployment rate is extremely low, amid an environment of low unemployment across the US.
- More than half of retirees over 50 would like to work again, if conditions are suitable.
- Older workers stick around. In a 2018 US study, the median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 (10.1 years) was more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 (2.8 years).
Ageism and age segregation
- Ageism is a kind of prejudice. Stereotyping based on age is inaccurate and gets in the way of finding solutions to important problems.
- We all want to age well. Ageism, like other prejudices, negatively impacts peoples’ health and shortens lifespan. Ageism has even been linked to dementia.
- Extreme age segregation has become common in the US and it can lead to increased ageism.
Aging population and ageism
Why are we fighting ageism? First off, because it is the right thing to do. It is unfair and inaccurate to lump a diverse group of people into a few stereotypes. Ageism diminishes us all.
We are also trying to change the narrative about aging because our population is changing and we no longer have a choice. With an aging population, ageism makes even less sense. Our prejudice against older people, including when it is against ourselves, is preventing us from creating a society where we can maximize productivity and ensure that we can all age well.
Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger