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Aged Population Continues to Rise in Allegheny County

The number of people 90 years and older living in Allegheny County is on the rise, and expected to increase about 43 percent over 2010 numbers by 2015. The University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) at the University of Pittsburgh recently published a blog post which projects that growth will taper off somewhat in the coming years.

"We're in a period of relatively rapid increase. There's a decline in the elderly population here, which is, generally speaking, 65 and over. Ninety plus has been increasing through the past as far as we look back, and is increasing now, but will be increasing a little slower toward the end of the decade," said Christopher Briem, an economist with UCSUR.

A rising "older old" population has numerous effects on the area, which can be good or bad.

"Neighborhoods that are transitioning from an older to a younger population are succeeding and thriving. I think it's going to be a challenge for neighborhoods that are seeing the older population decline and not getting those younger folks," said Briem.

There's also the cost of health care. As people reach age 90 and older, their health care needs increase. This is one reason why keeping track of this data on a county-by-county region is critical.

"Pittsburgh doesn't behave entirely like the rest of the nation, so you don't want to just hear a national story and presume the shifts are the same as elsewhere. The elderly population has actually been declining over the last 15 to 20 years, and that's different from the U.S. overall," said Briem.

According to 2010 census data, the number of elderly people has tripled nationally since 1980. There are currently an estimated 11,809 people aged 90 and over in Allegheny County.