Population aging forecasts across the United States show a divide between urban and rural areas and thus are at risk for climate change.
Rural areas in the United States are aging much faster than urban areas, which could put them at greater risk for climate change, according to new IIASA research.“The problem we tried to respond to in this research is whether it is good enough to assume the same age distribution for the United States. Or if the picture is incorrect, states across the country will actually vary in their age structure and therefore expose them to different aspects of climate risk, ”says IIASA researcher Eric Strනsnig, who led the study. “Once that question has been answered, we will be able to explore what the past spatial changes in the aging structure mean for future aging and climate risk across the United States.”
Based on demographic data 40 years ago to build a model for future aging, this study finds the most aging populations in the thinly populated states of the Middle East and Rocky Mountains. Meantime, the cities and suburbs of California, the Northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean have a younger demographic age composition of less than 70+. Researchers say that this is in contrast to historical horror trends. Until recently, aging in the US was relatively similar among neighboring countries with major differences in demographic structure between the South and the Northeast. However, in the second half of the 20th century, the US population became more mobile, increasing the number of young people moving to rural areas and cities.
Researchers say this analysis is important for understanding climate change risk. Weather difference impacts in the United States will also vary regionally, with the largest increase in the intensity of heatwaves in the northern regions of the US, with the Southwest’s long-term drought increasing. Combining social projections with environmental hazards such as heatwaves, droughts or floods can provide improved estimates of the impact on the most vulnerable sections of society.
“The sub-national collapse of future assessments is becoming increasingly important as we attempt to predict the future risks of climate change,” says Streisnig.