There once was a time when living into your 100s seemed like a pretty rare possibility – but if you happen to live in the US, you might be interested to know that your chances are on the up. Projections from the US Census Bureau (USCB) suggest that the number of American centenarians is set to quadruple over the next 30 years.
The population of the US currently sits just under 336 million. Of those people, it’s estimated that 101,000 are aged 100 or over, representing only 0.03 percent of the population. However, the USCB has estimated that the proportion will stand at 0.1 percent in 2054. That might still look like a tiny percentage, but that’s over 300,000 more centenarians kicking about – you’d need an extra three Michigan Stadiums to fit all those people together.
Although it’s still something of a sharp rise, this figure isn’t entirely unexpected; the number of people aged 100 or over in the US has been steadily increasing since the 1950s. Back then, it was thought there were only 2,300 American centenarians. It’s a group that’s already increased nearly 44 times over in less than 100 years.
Within that increasingly common group, there’s another trend that’s also projected to continue, albeit with some declines: they're mostly women and mostly white. At present, 78 percent of centenarians in the US are women and 77 percent are white; in 2054, this is estimated to go down to 68 and 72 percent, respectively.
The US is currently home to the second largest population of centenarians. The top spot belongs to Japan, where it’s 146,000. It’s reflective of a wider global trend of population aging, with the worldwide number of centenarians projected to increase to nearly 4 million by 2054. The largest group is estimated to be in China, where it’s thought six out of every 10,000 people will be aged 100 or older.
What are the potential consequences of an aging population? It’s hard to say for certain; research is based on projection models and educated guesses, but it could put pressure on healthcare systems and economies. That being said, some older people can be just as healthy as those decades younger than them.
Whilst there might be a higher proportion of older people, the population worldwide has been projected to fall to just 6 billion by the end of the century – and in the US, to the point where there could even be thousands of ghost cities.