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Mapping Aging (Again)

Not too long ago, we poured over some really interesting maps about aging trends in the United States.  Those maps showed county-by-county trends, and essentially brought us to the conclusion that we are slowly aging as a country, especially in Florida, and less-so in the Mountain West.  But how do we stack up against the rest of the world?  The answer says a lot about where we’re going as a country.

Here’s the median age in each state as of 2010.

0YJXFYeJust like before, the trends are obvious.  Older, more developed Northeastern states are more aged, the rugged, relatively unpopulated Mountain West is younger, and New England, Pennsylvania and Florida are the oldest areas in the country.  Let’s parse this down further, and look at a big county-by-county map.

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It’s very interesting to see it this way.  The county maps from last time showed trends into the future, this map shows the age of each county right now.  It’s very unexpected that Maine is the overall oldest state by median age, though!  But less surprising is the presence of the country’s oldest county, Sumter County, in Florida.

Now, let’s look at trends for the entire world, with the under 30 percentage in each country in 2005, and the projection of the same in 2025…

world_age_structure_2005_2025It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the shift is occurring there.  The more “developed” countries are getting older, while the less “developed” countries are getting younger as their populations explode.  The reasons are pretty easy to guess: easy access to birth control in the “Developed World” alongside far greater longevity and more comprehensive healthcare services in those countries letting more people live longer.  The areas of the world that are healthiest are understandably becoming the oldest!

Let’s take a look at two specific examples to make this more clear…

1280px-Australian_Census_2011_demographic_map_-_Australia_by_SLA_-_BCP_field_0109_Median_age_of_persons.svg

This is the average age in each Australian Land District.  Australia is a country very similar to the United States, with a colonial heritage derived from the British Empire that started on a vast, untamed continent, with an even more untamed West and interior.  The main differences are that the country is younger, and that the continent in question is a bit more inhospitable than North America was (to put it mildly).  The demographics reflect that, with a pattern similar to the United States’, but more extreme.  The giant Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts have extremely young populations, just like the American Mountain West and Alaska do, as does the relatively unpopulated Northern Territory.  The older, major coastal cities and their sprawls, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne, make a line along the country’s southeast coast that fills the area with an older population, just like the American Northeast Corridor.  Additional splotches of red surround the other large cities, Adelaide and Perth.  You can see the trends developing that in a few more decades will make Australia’s age map will look a lot like ours does now as the continent fills-in with more people,.  So this is where we were around 50 years ago.  Where will we be 50 years from now?

Let’s look to an unlikely place for the future…

Naselja-median_starostiWeren’t expecting that, were you?  Croatia is a prime example of where the US is going in regards to aging, as it’s a very developed European country, but not as extreme an example as countries in Western and Northern Europe, thanks mostly to the relatively recent wars in the region.  As you can see, even the youngest areas bottom out at an average of around 35 years, with huge swaths of the country averaging in the mid-50s in age.  This is where we are going, as our health improves, and our lives get longer, and our birth rate slows.  Essentially, while we still think of ourselves in terms of our cultural and political competitors, like Russia, China and Brazil, we’re actually slowly turning into the United Kingdom and Japan in terms of demographics.  It will be extremely interesting to see how that affects our character as a country moving forward.


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American Flag Evolution

We all know what tomorrow is, so we thought it would be fun to take a quick look back at all of the variations over the past 237 years of those gorgeous stars and stripes, the American flag!

But there’s a few funny things to be aware of.  First off, the first American flag was NOT the “Betsy Ross Flag” with a circle of thirteen stars.  It was a flag with the familiar stripes, but instead of a field of stars, there was a British Union Flag in their place.  This “Grand Union Flag” was very, very similar to the flag of the British East India Company.  It wasn’t until June 14th, 1777, that an official design was declared by the Continental Congress, and the familiar stars and stripes came into use, but not as a national flag, as a navy ensign, to be flown on naval ships.  And, even more interesting, the resolution passed by Congress was not specific about how the stars and stripes should be arranged, resulting in a wide variety of shapes and arrangements of stars over the years.  Arrangements weren’t made official until the 48-star flag in 1912!  Even the colors weren’t officially locked down until 1934!

In 1795, with fifteen states in the union, the number of stripes was increased from thirteen to fifteen along with the stars.  This could have gotten messy (imagine a flag with 50 stripes!), and, thankfully, they went back to thirteen stripes representing the original Thirteen Colonies in 1818, which was also when the notion of adding a star for each new state was created.  Officially, the flag’s new number of stars (and, now, the official design) becomes official nationwide on the first July 4th after a new state is admitted.  This is why there was a 49-star flag for one year, even though both Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959, since Alaska became a state in January 1959, causing a 49-star flag to be adopted that July, but Hawaii didn’t become a state until August 1959, causing the current 50-star flag to become official on July 4th, 1960.

And, there are, believe it or not, designs already in stand-by with 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 and 56 stars on them, just in case (one for each of the five U.S. Territories and DC, probably,  in case they become states).

Whew!  Really, we could go on forever (did we mention the Betsy Ross story is probably a legend, and that New Jersey’s Francis Hopkinson probably was the actual designer of the 1777 flag?), but we’ll stop now, let you get back to your fireworks and cookouts, and let you take a look at this gallery of flags through the years!