The term "Graying of America" means that, overall, the U.S. population is increasingly consisting of more elderly citizens. They are becoming a bigger segment of society and their needs are causing governments to have to put into place new or enhanced programs to care for this older populace. Consider this fact in a 2010 article by Maureen Mackey of The Fiscal Times, wherein she stated that, “Today, people age 50 and over comprise 24 percent of the U.S. population, while 17 million Americans are between the ages of 75 and 85. By 2050, that number will likely reach 30 million, according to the National Institute on Aging.”
This is a significant statistic as well as extrapolation to the year 2050, as it will have an effect on federal and state programs and their respective budgets. More elderly people (of retirement age and beyond) means less individuals working who are contributing to programs through payroll taxes.
For example, in Canada here, a smaller percentage of workers contributing to OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan – a Provincial Program), and the Unemployment Insurance Program (a Federal Government Program) means less funds for these programs. However, more people, in the case of OHIP, will likely need the program. This puts pressure on the government to find ways to fund this program. It often means cutting some of the things that OHIP will cover – medically speaking. OHIP already has cut the funding of some medical test in Ontario. We now have to pay for some tests that in the past cost us nothing to have performed.
Right now, in Canada, and I know this question concerns the United States, but I’m just stating this in comparison to make a point, the retirement age for getting Old Age security is 67. It was raised from 65 and it saved the federal government some money. This may be something that other governments would want to consider. However, the new Liberal government just elected in Canada, to win elderly votes, promised in the recent election campaign to drop this age requirement back to 65. As a result, they will have to find others ways to fund the increased financial pressure on this program as it strives to meet the needs of ‘graying’ Canadians.
So the “Graying of America” or America getting older means a shift in economic thinking, in essence. This applies to the funding of health care and other programs. It will also mean running the bureaucracy of these programs better to cut costs. Governments will have to be leaner and meaner (cutting some services despite how unpopular this will be) to keep these programs viable to meets the needs of ‘grayer’ Americans. It may mean cutting managerial and/or other staff that administer these programs – again unpopular or considered ’mean’ by many. This is a significant challenge for national and state governments and is a problem they cannot ignore.