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The Demographics of an Aging Population: Types & Examples

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  • 0:07 Demographics
  • 3:22 Ethnic & Culture
  • 5:41 Aging & Culture
  • 6:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

This lesson explores the demographics of older generations, as well as briefly looking into the implications of the lopsided sizes of ethnic and cultural groups in the United States.

Demographics

Almost every major newspaper in the span of a week will report something about social security, or unemployment, or the graying of America. What these all have in common, besides money and politics, is that they involve people - lots of people, lots of people across a large area. But they are not just a homogenous group of people who are staying in one place. These people are dynamic, they are moving, and they are interacting.

Demographics is defined as the study of populations, density, and the capacity for expansion and contraction. You can read all about the demographics of Colonial America, the Deep South during the Civil War, and the immigration of different groups at any point in the United States' history. But we don't care about that right now. We want to know about the demographics today. More specifically, we will be looking at the aging population and the various aspects of it, such as gender, ethnicity, and culture.

Gender

Gender is a funny thing, and while we don't have time to go into it, I really suggest you look up how common intersexed people are. However, all of our forms are in a mutually exclusive dichotomy, you are either male or female. Looking at our aging population in 2010, of the some 300 million people in the United States, about 81.5 million are between 45 and 64, which is about 26.4% of the population, while about 40.2 million people are 65 and older, which is about 13% of the population.

45-64 81.5 million 26.4%
65+ 40.2 million 13%

When we break this down by gender, males make up about 39.7 million of the people between 45 and 64. That's about 48.7% of the population. Females make up 41.8 million and 51.3% of the population. Ahhh! So many numbers! Basically, females make up slightly more of the population. Always have, always will. They just seem to outlive us men.

Male 39.7 million 48.7%
Female 41.8 million 51.3%

Older populations continue to show this split. There are 17.1 million males older than 65, which is about 42.5% of those over 65. There are 23.1 million women who make up 57.5% of the over 65 population. See? I told you women outlive us men.

Male 17.1 million 42.5%
Female 23.1 million 57.5%

What all of this means is that as we age, women will outlive men on average. While the numbers aren't as jarring as some posts may have you believe, it is an unfortunate fact of the world.

Ethnic & Culture

I am rolling ethnicity and culture into one here because, while I acknowledge that they aren't the same thing, they are darn near impossible to separate in a census form. I mean, I don't remember any form that offered me culture. And if they did, what might they be? 'Whitey McWhiterson Culture? Black Culture? Specific Asian Culture? Broad Asian Culture? Hispanic Culture? Latino Culture?'

Hopefully nobody took offense to that, since I did try to include a broad sweep of all of the cultures. It does, however, make my point that culture is very much a local-to-individual thing rather than something that is easily quantifiable on a piece of paper.

It was estimated that in the United States, 77.9% of the population is 'White Alone.' I am currently 'white in a relationship.' Huh? That's not what that means? Oh. 13.1% of the population indicated that they were 'Black or African American Alone.' 1.2% indicated American Indian or Alaska Native. 5.1% were 'Asian Alone.' Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander made up about .2%. Hispanic or Latino made up 16.9% of the population. This is one of the first times a U.S. census has had a 'Two or More Races,' which made up about 2.4% of the population.

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