America is growing older. The first wave of the baby boom generation that began at the end of World War II is now on the verge of becoming septuagenarians. In 2014, the 46.2 million citizens age 65 or older represented 14.5% of the U.S. population; by 2040 that percentage will increase to 21.7%.
This presents America with numerous challenges in the coming years as the aging population will require more government services, particularly in health care. The increasingly elderly population will create more Medicare beneficiaries and higher Medicare spending while fewer people will be paying into the system.
Average life expectancy is now 78.8 years
Compounding the issue is the increasing life expectancy and advances in medical care that can prolong life. The average life expectancy in the U.S. has risen to 78.8 years. The issue of aging is not confined to America alone. By 2050, the number of people worldwide aged 60 and older will be more than 2 billion individuals.
Older citizens are more likely to vote
Older citizens are becoming an increasingly potent political voice. As a group, they are much more likely to vote. In the 2010 elections, some 61 percent of Americans age 65 and older voted compared to just 21 percent of those ages 18 to 24. In the 55 to 64 age bracket, 54 percent went to the polls compared to 37 percent of those 25-44 years old. In the 2012 presidential election, a Pew Research report revealed that 72% of what they referred to as the Silent/Greatest generation (ages 71+) and 69% of the Boomer generation voted. Only 46% of the millennial (ages 18 to 35) generation voted.
In the 2016 presidential election older white voters are more supportive of Donald Trump while younger voters support Mrs. Clinton. A Morning Consult poll showed that Mr. Trump had a 16 point lead over Hillary Clinton in the over age 65 voters group, while Mrs. Clinton held a 17 point advantage with voters under the age of 29.
Both Clinton and Trump are senior citizens
What is ironic in this year’s election is that both candidates are senior citizens who are eligible for Social Security and Medicare, but neither is doing much to appeal to the senior citizen vote.
A February poll found that a majority of senior voters feel neglected by the candidates. Indeed, 70% said that Clinton and Trump weren’t paying enough attention to their issues – a big gamble as seniors are a bloc that actually show up to vote.
— Fox News
Nearly 90% of the population over 65 receives Social Security benefits, while over half rely on Social Security as their primary source of income. At the same time, the number of younger workers contributing into the system is declining. At some point, a change in the taxing system is going to be required to keep Social Security solvent, but the issue is rarely raised.