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Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit
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1.3: The Demographics of Aging

Shifting demographics have catalyzed new priorities, policies, and plans.6 Americans are living longer and staying healthy into their later years. The expanding over-65 population reflects the increasing diversity of our society. And older Americans live on both sides of an economic gap—some in financial comfort and others on limited incomes. Consider these demographic trends:

Longevity

The population worldwide is aging due to falling fertility (fewer births per woman) and rising longevity (longer lives). In the United States:

Diversity

In 2003, 17.6 percent of the over-65 population was African American, of Hispanic origin, or Asian or Pacific Islander. This percentage is expected to increase to 26.4 percent in 2030:

In 2000, 13 percent of the over-65 population spoke a language other than English at home; among them, more than one-third spoke Spanish.

Income

Statistics on the current and projected wealth of older Americans indicate a continuing chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots”:

Education

Older adults are better educated than they were in the past, and this trend is expected to continue:

Retirement

People now in their 50s are predicted to work longer than members of prior generations.

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