The mission of the Demographics Program is to provide analytical support to the Center’s three divisions and initiate collaborative research and public discourse on the challenges of global and regional population aging. The research and analysis, directed by Senior Research Scholar Adele Hayutin, is designed to facilitate greater understanding of how the demographic changes currently underway affect all aspects of our lives. The Program targets a primary audience of public policy makers, business leaders, and other community leaders to enable them to better navigate the future, avoid negative consequences of demographic changes, and take advantage of opportunities to improve our well-being.
State of Longevity Report (now entitled: “The Sightlines Project: Seeing Our Way to Living Long, Living Well in 21st-Century America”)
THE SIGHTLINES PROJECT is a benchmark analysis for an unfolding 21st century miracle – Americans living well, to the age of 100 and beyond. It is clear that people can thrive at advanced ages – many already do so – but for the nation to thrive under these circumstances we must engage in a level of planning and foresight never before demanded. Long lives reflect the cumulative effects of decisions, behavioral practices and lifestyles that unfold over decades. The Stanford Center on Longevity, dedicated to redesigning long life, began development of this benchmark analysis in 2015 in order to track our trajectories and guide our efforts. We aim to stir national debate, stimulate public commitment, and focus personal will to improve our individual and collective odds of century lives of our own choosing.
The project focuses on a set of indicators that track progress on key factors that enhance long-term well-being in the United States. The domains include financial security, healthy living, and social engagement. Products, which will include a report and interactive website, will be developed for a February 2016 release. We are partnering with TIME magazine on the project, and TIME will release a special longevity issue featuring the project.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the primary sponsor for this project. We also received generous gifts from Halbert Hargrove, Jim Johnson, Prudential Insurance Company, the Society of Actuaries, and Transamerica.
Adele Hayutin continued to work with former Secretary of State George Shultz on strategic implications of regional demographic trends. For example, she developed a briefing on Israel’s demographics including a review of the UN projections for population growth in Israel and the Palestinian territories. This update extended the analysis in our 2009 study, “Critical Demographics of the Greater Middle East: A New Lens for Understanding Regional Issues.”
Spatial Mapping of an Aging Population
We issued the final report for this project, funded by the MacArthur Research Network on an Aging Society, in March 2015. Our statistical analysis of U.S. Census data shows that there is no substantial clustering of the elderly around other elderly individuals outside of states that are traditional retirement destinations, such as Florida, Arizona, and California. Specifically, very few census tracts have large concentrations of individuals over the age of 65. We found a similar result when looking at census block groups, the smallest geographic unit for which the Census Bureau publishes data. The findings indicate that to the extent that any concentrations of elderly do occur, they do so at very small geographic scales and that the U.S. Census geographies might be too large to detect meaningful concentrations of elderly individuals.
Our review of the literature on aging revealed that no one has mapped the distribution of older people in the United States at small geographic scales, such as neighborhoods. We also determined that there is no existing methodology for such spatial mapping that would combine data on demographic and socioeconomic characteristic of the elderly with relevant environmental factors and data on the availability of services. Nonetheless, we found great prospective interest in such mapping, from both our business and government contacts. There was particular interest in further understanding characteristic of Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), buildings and neighborhoods not specifically designed as retirement communities but where people have aged in place and created a cluster of old people. By some estimates, between 36% and 50% of people age 55 and older are currently living in buildings or neighborhoods that can be considered NORCs, hence the importance of understanding this phenomenon.