The Morning File / Should we count on Census Bureau's view of the future?
Not everyone loves the U.S. Census Bureau. To some, they seem overly nebby, coming around every 10 years for more than two centuries demanding the right to count you as a living, breathing person, even if you'd prefer to just be off the grid, thank you.
And not just that, but in the decennial census they also want to know things like your age, your race and how you're related to others in the household. My goodness, what is this -- the Gestapo?
The Census Bureau's inquisition is even worse in something it calls the American Community Survey, which 2 percent or so of households each year are randomly chosen to slog through. That's one where the government pries about your home, your job, your income, your travel habits and more. It's every paranoia freak's nightmare.
The Morning File, however, loves the Census Bureau, so much so that we send it a new Christmas sweater each year and we tip our enumerator generously each decade, even though both the census-taker and we will probably go to prison for it if the government ever finds out. Our enthusiasm for the census people stems from how they continually spit out information we are happy to regurgitate.
For instance, the bureau just put out a detailed description of what it expects the country to look like in 2060. This is of great interest to The Morning File author, who wants to know whether it's really worth it to eat lots of vegetables and exercise for 30 minutes a day in order to live to reach age 102 that year, or whether the world will be so screwed up by then that it'd be better to just focus on having fun, even if it means dying in my 80s or 90s.
Here's the outlook for 2060, if you're planning to be around that long yourself: a nation that's old and diverse. A country that has 43.1 million people age 65 and older today will have 92 million nearly five decades from now. The number of people 85-plus will rise even more dramatically, tripling in number to some 18 million. So if you're looking to buy stock for your grandchildren as a Christmas gift, you could do no better than investing in the people who make Depends and Ensure.
It's going to be tough for aging skinheads by 2060, because America will be far more multi-cultural than it is today. After 2024, the non-Hispanic white population will actually be on the decline, unlike other groups.
The Hispanic population is supposed to climb dramatically from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, in fact. The black population, meanwhile, would increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million, and Asians here would increase from 15.9 million to 34.4 million.
By 2043, if all this turns out as projected, there would be no such thing as a white majority population. Every race or ethnic group would be a minority. (A civil rights lawyer's dream -- look for discrimination suits from everyone!)
Separately last week, the Census Bureau released data describing the present-day centenarian population, which is interesting for those of us pondering becoming centenarians down the road.
According to the 2010 census, there were four centenarian women for every centenarian man. We like the implicit suggestion from that ratio that if we're a single male then, it's going to be so much easier to get a date than it ever was in high school or college. (As to what we're able to do on the date, that's another matter -- we assume that by then people will just hook up through some virtual reality format or robotic substitute anyway.)
We do have some bad news from the census for the many readers of The Morning File who are age 101, which is often considered our target demographic. Of all centenarians in 2000, 62.5 percent of them were age 100 or 101. It seems there's some slippery cliff right after that, where people inexplicably get to be rather fragile at ages 102 and beyond.
Our guess is that, like every other period in life, being a centenarian is a mixed bag. As long as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and The Who are still performing, however -- and there's apparently no reason to think they'll stop before then, based on last week's Hurricane Sandy relief concert -- we might as well stick around to see what new moves they come up with.
First Published December 17, 2012 12:00 am