Older adults will drive U.S. population growth over the next quarter century. Projected to grow four times as fast as the total population, older adults will make up of 22 percent of the population in 2040, up from 15% in 2015. Growth will be driven by sharp increases in both the native-born and especially the foreign-born senior population, resulting in a far more diverse older adult population in 2040 than exist today. Among older adults, the 85+ population will grow most rapidly. As a consequence, there will be an estimated 193,000 centenarians living in the U.S. by 2040, up from 72,000 in 2015.
We believe this population aging can be a new engine for innovation, business development, and employment growth in the U.S. Everything in both the person-centered (i.e., residential) and the built environment (i.e., all public, private, and commercial spaces) must change to accommodate an aging population. Consequently, new ideas and innovations, including assistive technologies and the digital literacy training required to use them, are needed to support seniors as they strive to cope with their age-related difficulties while maintaining residence in their homes and their communities. In addition, new models of care are required to address the needs of the oldest old (85+ population).
Unfortunately, few entrepreneurs and business owners are strategically positioned to take advantage of opportunities that undergird population aging. Accordingly, we highlight four specific areas in which BIG opportunities exist to innovate, build and expand businesses, and create jobs in our aging society. We also identify policy prescriptions that are required to facilitate this entrepreneurially driven, age-focused economic development.