- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Almost half a century from now, Americans will look a lot grayer as life expectancies reach into the 80s and fewer children are born, new federal data suggest.

Still, compared to many other developed nations, the United States will see healthy population growth due to steadily rising immigration and not-too-shabby birthrates: The U.S. population is projected to grow by 30 percent — from 321 million in 2015 to 416 million in 2060 — according to data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.

A highlight is that, over the next 45 years, people in all racial and ethnic groups are expected to live into their 80s.

Black men could see the greatest advances, with life expectancy projected to rise by more than eight years, from 72.9 years to 81.4 years. Women who are white, Asian, Hispanic or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander are projected to live to 87 years old or more, while Native American women will reach age 86 and black women age 85.

The bulk of the U.S. population — 81 percent — will be native-born in 2060, only modestly lower than the 87 percent that is native-born in 2015. The foreign-born portion of the population, however, is expected to steadily rise and comprise about 19 percent of the population by 2060.

America’s expected population growth is likely to be the envy of Europe, Japan and the Russian Federation, which are all projected to lose tens of thousands of their residents by 2060, according to the population division of the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Germany, for instance, is projected to go from 82.5 million people in 2015 to 68.4 million in 2060, based on the international agency’s “medium variant” analysis.

But America will see the “rise of the wrinklies,” as one author put it, as the number of elderly Americans grows faster than the number of babies and very young children.

The number of U.S. children under age 5 is expected to grow slightly, from around 20 million in 2015 to 23 million in 2060.

Over the same time period, the number of people age 65 and older will more than double, from 48 million to 98 million, said Jason Devine, assistant division chief for population estimates and projections at the Census Bureau. In addition, people who are age 85 and older will be a far larger share — around 20 percent — of the elderly by 2060, he said.

This elderly group will further include an astonishing number of centenarians: Instead of 14,000 men who are 100 years old or more in 2015, there will be 170,000 in 2060 — more than 1,000 percent growth.

Among women, the number of centenarians will grow from 58,000 to 434,000, a 648 percent increase.

These data support a conclusion reached in a report this year by Pew Research Center, which said that, despite a slowing population growth, the United States’ demographic future is “robust” in comparison with other countries.

Since the U.S. population is projected to grow faster and age slower than the populations of its major economic partners in Europe and Asia, these demographic trends may enhance future opportunities for the U.S. in the global economy, said the Pew report, “Attitudes About Aging: A Global Perspective.”

The reasons for these demographic changes, Pew said, include declines in marriage rates, growing educational levels and labor force participation of women, and better health care and nutrition, which permits people to live longer.

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