Dmitri N. Shalin

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The Social Health of Nevada: Leading Indicators and Quality of Life in the Silver State


UNLV: Center for Democratic Culture Publications

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Societal aging is one of the most important social trends of the 21st century. It affects our political, social, and economic institutions and also the nature of our interpersonal and family relationships (Quadagno 2011). In the coming decades, both as individuals and as a society, we will have to make important decisions regarding the consequences of our aging population. Policy makers, families, businesses, local, state, and federal governments, health care providers will have to meet the growing needs of the older population in the U.S. and in Nevada.

By the year 2020, the percent of the U.S. population over age 65 is expected to exceed 17%. Nearly one out of every five people will be over age 65. Like other industrialized countries, the U.S. is experiencing a “graying” of its population as the proportion of people in older age groups grows faster than the proportion of the population in younger age groups. With the maturation of the Baby Boom generation, the largest cohort of people ever born, the U.S. can expect to face new challenges concerning the needs of the ‘boomers’ born between 1946 and 1964, as well as those of the rapidly expanding cohort of citizens aged 85 years and older. The future will likely include three generations of “senior citizens,” among them the younger “pre-retirement” age group (who are contacted at age 50 by the AARP), middle-aged older “retirement qualified” individuals (age 65 to 75 or 80), and the oldest-old (those over 85 and well into the late 90’s and 100’s).

With these momentous developments, it is increasingly important to ask about the changing needs of our aging population and to investigate trends, similarities, and differences among older Americans. Furthermore, it is critical to find out how these trends will impact the current older population as well as future generations of Nevadans. What will be the implications of aging in Nevada for social policies and the provision of services as the state’s older population continues to grow?

Although the entire country is experiencing population aging, Nevada’s “graying” process is unique.While Nevada’s rapidly growing population over the past 15 years has included a disproportionately large number of retired persons in our urban areas, Nevada also has many less populated regions where the increase in the percentage of elderly is a direct consequence of “aging in place” and the out-migration of younger people. This out-migration from rural areas coupled with the numbers of older Nevadans left behind in remote places means that rural Nevada is currently facing extraordinary challenges in providing needed services for their elderly citizens. Urban Nevada, however, is not without its own challenges created by the sheer size and enormity of the “senior citizen” population base. With two large urban areas at opposite ends of the state and rural populations scattered between, Nevada will face tough choices meeting the needs of its aging population in the decades to come.


Societal aging


Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Educational Sociology | Family, Life Course, and Society

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Jennifer Reid Keene and Jacqueline Ragin. 2017. “Aging Trends and Challenges in in Nevada.” In The Social Health of Nevada: Leading Indicators and Quality of Life in the Silver State, edited by Dmitri N. Shalin. Las Vegas, NV: UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, http://cdclv.unlv.edu.