What do you get when the United States had a baby boom from 1946 to 1963 and Howard County had a quadrupling of our population from 1960 to 1990? You get a very skewed population of baby boomers living in Howard County. In 2010 fifty percent of the households in Howard County were headed by a baby boomer. This is shown most dramatically in a new report from the Howard County Office of Planning. The rise in the over 65 population is projected to increase by 165% from 2010 to 2040. This compares dramatically when you compare that to the increases in other age groups during this same period. The 0-4 age group increases by 9%, 5-19 age group drops by 1 % , the 20-39 age group increases by 17% and the 40-64 age group increases by 2%. The bottom line is that the overall population of Howard County under 65 is going to stabilize or decline while the 65+ population is going to significantly increase. Even more significant is where the most dramatic increase occurs within the 65+ group. The younger, healthier group of those from 65-80 will actually decline as a percentage of the 65+ group. The 80+ age group will show a large increase in the next 30 years. The percentage of the 65+ group in 2010 that was 80+ was 23%. In 2040 this 80+ group will grow to 35% of the 65+ population. This is a age group that is most likely to use and need supportive services. 28% of the 65+ population have one disability and of this group 60% have more than one disability.
Another demographic change in the 65+ population in the next 30 years is the decline in number of non minority residents that will make up this group. In 2010 the 65+ population that was White was 73%. This reflects a racial makeup of our County in the 1960's and early 1970's. The racial and ethnic diversity that has been growing in Howard County the past 20 years will start to show up as we approach 2040. In 2040 the percentage of the 65+ population that is White will only be 35%. The growing minority population's ability to afford supportive services as they age will less when you look at the income demographics of Howard County. In a report prepared for the Housing Office in 2011 the Howard County African American population has an income that is 31% lower than the White population, the Hispanic population has an income that is 27% lower and the Asian population has an income that is 10% lower.
What do these demographic changes mean for Howard County? Certainly we will continue to see a growth in housing in our County aimed at the 55+ market. Home health agencies, assisted living homes, nursing homes and even the hospital should see increases as our population grows older. Demand for transportation services for a population that no longer drives will increase. Much of the transportation increase will be for paratransit or door to door transportation. Some will be for more taxi service and some for bus services. Growth in County funded services for seniors will increase. The Columbia Association will have to address the changing demographics that will move from young family based services to services that reflect this an older, less mobile population. Fitness services might have to be more geared to rehab services.
For the last 30 years, various agencies and departments and individuals have predicted a decline in youth. In 1990, I was told we needed no more new schools. Since then we've built- by my count- 12 elementary schools, 8 middle schools and 4 high schools. This does not include additions to schools to accommodate more students. I agree that the US is facing an aging bubble as those born in the mid 40's to the late 50's reach seniority- census data has pointed to this for decades. But the statistics can't be viewed in a vacuum. The populations that emigrate to Howard County are skewed towards young families with children. They are attracted by jobs and to a larger extent than nearly anywhere else in the country- those jobs require college and graduate degrees. They are attracted by the school system and they are attracted by the amenities. At the other end of the spectrum- I would point out that 55+ houses are not selling. The supply far outweighs the demand. Trends indicate that most seniors hope to age in place and are making changes to allow that to happen. So- instead of moving from a home to a 55+ to a continuing care and nursing home... they are skipping that middle step. Currently there are few choices in continuing care in Howard County and so many residents are migrating to Baltimore County (Charlestown), Carroll County (Fairhaven) and Montgomery County (Riderwood). More families are also returning to the ages old (pun intended) practice of living in multi-generational homes. I guess my point is that its hard to draw assumptions from statistics without stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. Although those statistics can and should certainly inform how we begin to prepare for changes. ~ mcat
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