Census Metric: Male geezers narrowing the old age gender gap

Women still outlive men, but the gender gap among U.S. seniors is narrowing.

New 2010 census figures, released Thursday, show men are narrowing the female population advantage, primarily in the 65-plus age group. It’s a change in the social dynamics of a country in which longevity, widowhood and health care for seniors often have been seen as issues more important to women.

In all, the numbers highlight a nation that is rapidly aging even as Congress debates cuts in Medicare, an issue with ramifications for the growing ranks of older men…

Over the past decade, the number of men in the U.S. increased by 9.9 percent, faster than the 9.5 percent growth rate for women. As a result, women outnumbered men by just 5.18 million, compared with 2000, when there were 5.3 million more women than men.

The male-female ratio in the U.S. also increased to 96.7 from 96.3 in 2000, reflecting the narrowing of the female advantage in overall population…There hasn’t been such a sustained resurgence in the U.S. male population since 1910, when medical advances started to increase women’s life expectancies by reducing deaths during pregnancy…

The latest census figures come amid a graying baby boomer demographic of 78 million people — now between the ages of 46 and 65 and looking ahead to retirement — who will have a major voice in the 2012 elections as federal spending and the spiraling costs of Medicare rise to the forefront.

Last month, the Republican-controlled House approved sweeping changes to Medicare for people younger than 55, but the party has begun to pull back after meeting stiff protests from older voters. On Tuesday, Democrats scored an election upset in a reliably Republican House district in upstate New York after Democrat Kathy Hochul seized on Republican Jane Corwin’s embrace of the House proposal to overhaul Medicare…

Nationally, the median age rose to 37.2, up from 35.3 in 2000. Among the voting-age population, the 45-plus age group now makes up a majority at 51.9 percent, up from 42 percent in 1990.

The middle-aging boomers and seniors are at the center of demographic momentum for most of the country, so it’s not surprising that health insurance and Social Security are hot-button issues among the electorate,” said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analyzed many of the 2010 numbers. “They are issues that could be dominant in the minds of voters for many years to come.”

“If current trends continue, men’s life expectancy will approach that of women in the next few decades, creating more of a gender balance in the oldest age groups,” he said. “This has wide implications for family relationships in old age and caretaking, with more potential partners for older women.”

Politicians who worry more about money than people should be forced to go to work for an honest living – somewhere like in a coal mine or digging potatoes. Social Security and Medicare fill essential societal needs. Questions about funding those needs should be grounded in equitable shares among the society.

That means people earning above $106,000 a year need to pay the SSA tax just like the rest of us. Remove the cap from who has to pay altogether. Plain and simple. Everyone pays. Democracy in practice.

As the funds for Medicare gradually diminish – the easiest solution is to kick politicians out of Congress who feel their only mandate is on behalf of the corporate rich and powerful. The board of directors of Exxon may whine as loud as Rand Paul about paying their fair share to America; but, they won’t be forced to leave their country clubs and start eating cat food to stay alive.

Remove the subsidies and tax breaks and take our tax schedules back to where they were before Bush and Cheney and Exxon were elected. Recall that the nation was in a lot better fiscal shape back then – and there were reasons for that. Starting with corporations pulling their weight.

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