Sexagenarians to Quadruple in Next Half Century

Mar 29, 2002

The number of people older than 60 years of age will quadruple during the next half century in a worldwide “demographic revolution” that will strain pension and health care systems, according to U.N. officials and experts on aging. By 2050, one in five people worldwide, or 2 billion, will be aged older than 60, as compared with one in 10 people today.

“The pervasive implications of the aging of the world population (constitute) a profound demographic revolution, whose impact has been compared to that of globalization,” says Nitin Desai, U.N. undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs. Within the next 50 years, people older than 60 will outnumber people younger than 15, Desai adds.

“In the 20th century, we gained over 30 years of life. That’s greater than was attained in the previous 5,000 years of human history,” says Dr. Robert Butler, president of the International Longevity Center-USA.

Moderator Comment: How will retailing need to change
as the consumer population ages?

The graying population is old news (feel free to groan).
Up until a few years ago, I didn’t give it much thought beyond being information
that was necessary for professional reasons.

That was until I learned that the average life expectancy
of a male in the U.S. is 73 years. For Anderson men, the average is even lower
(see the role of Anderson women). Based on these numbers, I’m well past the
halfway mark to a dirt nap.

So, what kind of senior am I likely to become? What will
this mean to retailers who want my money? Here are a few ideas.

Give me a job. A retailer stands a better chance
of getting my money if it puts me to work. It will also keep me off the streets
and out of trouble.

I’m old, not stupid. According to the American
Psychological Association, 83% of those over the age of 65 will have graduated
from high school by 2030. I’m the class of 1976.

I’m not like those other geezers. Older Americans
are a diverse group. The percentage of the AARP population that is African-American
or Hispanic will just continue to grow.

I have a friend with a problem. While I’m sure
it won’t happen to me, there are older Americans that have special needs. Sexual
dysfunction, for example, increases in both sexes with age. Have the products
and trained associates ready to help my friend.

Pump up the volume. Nearly half of men and 37%
of women 75+ suffer mild to moderate hearing loss. Good PA systems are a must.

That’s no lady, that’s my wife. My thanks to Lyle
Lovett (and a wish for a speedy recovery from his recent bull trampling accident)
for that line. Sixty-four percent of Americans between 65 and 74 are married.
With women living, on average, seven years longer than men, it probably makes
sense to be especially nice to the Missus.

Technophobes need not apply. My generation was
the first to forget what bank tellers were for. If it will make my life easier,
I’ll give it a shot.

Give me service and I’ll give you information.
I’m not terribly concerned about intrusions into my privacy. When I give information
to Amazon, I can see it’s being used to my advantage. I’ve yet to see a store
loyalty program (anywhere I shop) that provides anything more than a discounts.
Anderson – Moderator

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