Our Kūpuna Population is Growing

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Shape Our Future: United States Census 2020

Hawaiʻi’s population among the 65-and-older age group is growing. And it’s expected to continue increasing as Baby Boomers, who first reached the age of 65 in 2011, age and retire. It’s an important statistic to watch as the healthcare and long-term care needs of our lāhui increases and could eventually exceed availability.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report Hawaiʻi Population Characteristics 2018, “Hawaiʻi’s total population grew by 4.4% between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2018. The average annual growth rate was .5%. Comparatively, the elderly population, those 65 years and older, grew 33.7% in that same period and had an average growth rate of 3.6% annually.”

The report continues, “Hawaiʻi’s population is aging at a greater rate than the U.S. as a whole. The United States’ population grew by 6% between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2018 with an average annual growth rate of .7%. The U.S.’s elderly population grew by 30.2% with an average annual growth rate of 3.3%. The elderly population in Hawaiʻi accounted for 18.4% of the statewide population in 2018. Hawaiʻi ranked 7th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the percentage of the population aged 65 and over.”

This upward trend is also true of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) population as a whole. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 36,000 Native Hawaiians were over the age of 60.

For the NHPI population throughout the U.S., the median age has increased. The average age of the NHPI population was 29.6 years in 2018, compared to 26.4 in 2010, another indicator that the aging population is growing.

In comparison, the median age for all of Hawaiʻi is 38.6. Interestingly, Hawaiʻi County had the oldest median age of 42.7 years, while Honolulu had the youngest median age at 38.1.

For Native Hawaiians living in Hawaiʻi, the 2010 data shows that 11% of the population who chose “Native Hawaiian Alone” on the census were aged 65 and older. For those people who chose more than one race, 7% of the “Native Hawaiian Alone or in Combination” population were aged 65 and over. These two populations increased by 3% and 1%, respectively, since 2000 according to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ 2019 Native Hawaiian Data Book.

It’s a trend that’s expected to continue and is something to watch when the data gathered in the 2020 Census is released.