A new analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center looks at aging across the US as the population at large grows older.
“An American born today has a projected average lifespan 20 full years longer than one born in 1925, and we are, as a society, growing old,” declared Time in its February 2015 cover story. Now, a new analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center looks at how this plays out geographically, finding that 97% of US counties experienced a rise in their 65+ populations in the last four years.
The new analysis shows Colorado leading the way, with the top three fastest-aging counties in the nation, all of which experienced more than 50% growth in their 65+ populations since 2010. But Florida still tops the list of grayest regions, with 19.1% of the state population aged 65 and older, and one county even topping out at 52.9%. Meanwhile, Alaska is the “youngest” state, with only 9.4% of its population aged 65+, and Lexington city, Virginia, has the lowest median age at only 21.6.
As Americans live longer lives and the share of 65+ consumers grows, society will need to adapt. Joel Cohen, a professor of populations at Columbia University, said at a Columbia conference on aging that the shift is an opportunity: “There’s a challenge to adjust our institutions, our employment practices, our pension plans, our family structures to take advantage of the fact that people will be living longer with longer functional lives—not just longer in misery, but longer with capacity.” As boomers seek a more active and adventurous retirement, is Colorado set to surpass Florida as a destination for retirees?
The shift also represents a huge opportunity for brands. A report earlier this year from J. Walter Thompson London found that 82% of over-50s didn’t feel represented in advertising. Brands have a long way to go in product design and messaging to truly resonate with this influential cohort.
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