Thursday, February 22, 2007

PA's "2020 VISION" Project: Part I

It is often repeated that "Pennsylvania has the third highest senior population in the United States, behind Florida and West Virginia". This ranking is based on the last available United States Census Bureau data, stated as of April 1, 2000.

According to the 2000 Census, Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of people over the age of 65 in the nation (15.6%). Twenty percent (19.8%) is aged 60 and older. By the year 2020, Pennsylvania's 60 and older population is expected to number more than 3 million people -- 25% of the Commonwealth's population.

Such statistics have been cited in presentations by a
federal EPA Regional Administrator in April, 2003 in addressing environmental concerns affecting the elderly in the Pittsburgh area, by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency in 2006 in making a health in housing program award, by the Pennsylvania Attorney General in August, 2006 in announcing creation of an "Elder Abuse Task Force", and by the Governor and the Secretary of Aging in October, 2006 in announcing grants to senior centers, among many others.

Let's look at some 2000 Census figures for Pennsylvania, according to the
U.S. Census Bureau's "People QuickFacts" on the Commonwealth:

People QuickFacts Pennsylvania USA
Population, 2005 estimate 12,429,616296,410,404
Population, percent change, April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005 1.2%5.3%
Population, 2000 12,281,054281,421,906
Persons under 5 years old, percent, 2005 5.8%6.8%
Persons under 18 years old, percent, 2005 22.7%24.8%
Persons 65 years old and over, percent, 2005 15.2%12.4%

This summary is further parsed into more defined age groups in the U.S. Census Bureau's "Quick Tables" on the Commonwealth.

Graphically, the 2000 census data was plotted for individual Pennsylvania's counties in a
"Pennsylvania Age 65 Plus Thematic Census Map", posted map shows the percentage of households with someone age 65+ (a lighter color indicates a lesser percentage, a darker color indicates a higher percentage).

Statistically, the youngest population in Pennsylvania is in Centre County -- Pennsylvania's "Happy Valley".

National trends in aging of the population have been the subject of analysis and projections. See: "The Elderly Population", by Frank B. Hobbs, of the Age and Sex Statistics Branch (01/18/01). See also: "Statistical Brief: Sixty-Five Plus in the United States", posted by the Census Bureau from the Economics and Statistics Administration, of the U.S. Department of Commerce (May, 1995).

Other states might catch up with Pennsylvania's ratio of seniors in the population, or even exceed it soon. And even the ratios within Pennsylvania counties likely will change due to current trends not fully developed in 2000.
See: "Young leaders step up as aging population slows", by Andrew Conte, of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11/12/06), which notes, in part:
Through 2030, Pennsylvania is projected to have the slowest growth in seniors of any state, with the number of people older than 65 increasing by just slightly more than half.

Second only to Florida with its percentage of seniors in 2000, Pennsylvania will drop out of the top 10 over the next quarter-century, according to census projections.

Sun Belt states already popular with retirees could see their senior populations double or even triple. Even Florida can expect its number of seniors to grow by 176 percent.

Nevertheless, data projections for Pennsylvania predict that, in the year 2020, one-quarter of our population is anticipated to be aged 65 or older. The Governor's administration took these projections seriously, and, in June, 2006, the Governor proclaimed an administration-wide, short-term "2020 Vision" project.

It is in process now. It is mandated to produce a report by June 30, 2007. I'll review it in Part II.

* * *

Update: 02/23/07:

For Part II of this posting, see:
PA's "2020 VISION" Project: Part II (EE&F Law Blog, 02/23/07).