Two factors have been at work in the aging of America’s population: the increased longevity and the bulge in numbers of persons due to the Baby Boom of the mid-1940s to the mid-’60s. Today, we can expect continued extension of longevity and another population surge from the Millennials.
This phenomenon is everywhere. In 2019, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey recorded 1.5 million Hoosiers, 22.5 percent of the population, were age 60 and older.
The Hoosier 60-plus population, while quite diverse in some ways, lacks diversity in others. Their many concerns are not what we might all consider afflictions.
The median age of the Hoosier 60-plus is 69.5 years meaning just over half of them were in their 60s.
Nearly 90 percent of Hoosiers 60-plus were non-Hispanic white.
46 percent of 60-plus households were married couple families.
Another 41 percent were households of persons living alone.
Only 6.4 percent of the 60-plus moved from where they lived last year; the Under 60 figure was 16 percent.
There were 55,300 foreign born Hoosiers 60-plus. Of these, 83 percent lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
The 60-plus group, despite being just 22.5 percent of Indiana’s population, accounted for 60 percent of the veterans living in our state.
Disabilities were reported for 30.3 percent of the 60-plus population; among the Under 60 the figure was 8.7 percent.
In the 60-plus age group, 8.2 percent were below the poverty level; that figure is 13 percent for the Under 60.
Of 1.5 million Hoosiers 60-plus in 2019, 456,000 (30.1 percent) were employed and only 0.7 percent unemployed. The remaining 69.2 percent were not in the labor force.
49 percent of 60-plus households had average earnings from work of $64,619 for the past year; 51 percent had no earnings. In the Under 60 households, 94 percent had earnings averaging $84,323.
77 percent of 60-plus households received Social Security payments averaging $21,387 per year; 23 percent did not.
55 percent of 60-plus households received an average of $21,721 annually from retirement accounts; 45 percent did not.
81 percent of 60-plus housing units were owner-occupied and 19 rented, compared to 63 and 37 percent respectively for those Under 60.
Not only is the population 60-plus different from those Under 60, the major differences within the 60-plus population have no uniformity of distress.
After WWII, the U.S. population 60-plus stood close to 7.5 percent of the total. Today it’s about 25 percent. Individuals and institutions struggle to adapt and adjust to this new reality.
The profound fissures in our society may result from more than a technological quake. They may emerge from the seismic demographic shift of an ever-expanding 60-plus population. This reality may have insufficiently identified costs and benefits to society in general.