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Seven powerful demographic trends—analogous to gale force wind gusts in an adverse weather event—constitute potentially powerful disruptors of business and commerce in the years ahead. Four of the gale force demographic disruptors—slowing total and foreign-born population growth, white population loss, and declining fertility— have evolved over the past several decades.

The factors that determine our health go far beyond what happens in the doctor’s office. In this Kenan Insight, we explore how the physical well-being of many Americans has been placed in jeopardy by upstream social and economic factors such as racism, food and job insecurity, and a lack of community and social support systems.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has named Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center, to the newly created Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force.

Professor Jim Johnson, director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center, recently penned an op-ed for the Raleigh News and Observer on the importance of immigrants in an aging U.S. economy. Johnson co-authored the piece with Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities Vice President Allan M. Parnell.

In his most recent paper James H. Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, addresses the challenges facing senior African Americans in accessing long-term care.

African American older adults face a major retirement crisis (Rhee, 2013; Vinik, 2015)). Owing to a legacy of racial discrimination in education, housing, employment, and wages or salaries, they are less likely than their white counterparts to have accumulated wealth over the course of their lives (Sykes, 2016). In 2013, the median net worth of African American older adult households ($56,700) was roughly one-fifth of the median net worth of white older adult households ($255,000) (Rosnick and Baker, 2014). Not surprising, given these disparities in net worth, African American older adult males (17%) and females (21%) were much more likely than their white male (5%) and female (10%) counterparts to live in poverty (Johnson and Parnell, 2016; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2013a). They also were more likely to experience disabilities earlier in life and to have shorter life expectancies (Freedman and Spillman, 2016).

In this paper, we develop a sociodemographic profile of the most vulnerable African American older adult households. To do so, we draw data from the 2011–15 American Community Survey, which contains linked housing and person records for a 5 percent sample of U.S. population. This dataset literally allows us to peer inside of African American older adult households and in the process identify the major barriers or obstacles to aging in place.

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 22 percent of the population in 2040, up from 15 percent in 2015.

A recent article by AARP compares the tax landscape in North Carolina with surrounding states, and discusses how North Carolina tax breaks for older residents fall short of those offered by other states, such as South Carolina. The article quotes Jim Johnson, director of Education, Aging, and Economic Development for the Kenan Institute, on what older Americans consider when choosing where to spend their retirement years.

On October 27, 2017 the Frank H. Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise (Kenan Institute) hosted The Business of Healthcare: Adapting to an Aging Economy at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The conference brought together more than 100 attendees representing the diverse interests and perspectives of health care and elder care organizations, medical and pharmaceutical companies, patient advocacy organizations, government agencies and the academic research sector.

In just eight years, 20 percent of all North Carolinians will be 65 or older. Nationwide there are now more Americans in the 65-plus age group than at any other time in U.S. history – with those 85 and older the fastest-growing segment. The Frank H. Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise will shine light on the implications of this demographic shift at the "Business of Health Care: Adapting to an Aging Economy conference" on Oct. 27 at the Kenan Center in Chapel Hill.

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. We believe this population aging can be a new engine for innovation, business development, and employment growth in the U.S.