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November 2002

The Demographics of Aging in the United States: Implications for Dermatology

Author Affiliations

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Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(11):1427-1428. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.11.1427

THE WORLD'S population is aging at an unprecedented rate. Statistics from the US Census Bureau1 detail this success story of increasing life expectancy. Today, approximately 1 in 8 Americans (12.6%) is 65 years or older, an 11-fold increase since 1900, while the number of those younger than 65 years has only tripled. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans (20.3%) is expected to be 65 years or older. Just since the 1950s, the age distribution of Americans has changed dramatically (Figure 1). The population pyramid that has characterized all societies from the dawn of time, with children being most numerous and elderly individuals a minute fraction, has been modified to reflect a preponderance of middle-aged people and a distinct increase in the numbers of elderly at the expense of children and young adults. By 2030, the distribution is projected to be almost rectangular, with comparable numbers of persons in each decade of life. Similar projections are made for all the developed countries.

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