Seniors' growth rate is overstated

July 05, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County may have the most seniors in Maryland, but an oft-repeated claim about the group's growth rate is just a myth.

When the issue of graying is discussed, it is often stated that Baltimore County's senior population is growing at a rate second only to that of Dade County, Fla. Currently, Baltimore County has about 136,000 people age 60 and over.

But in truth, the county's growth rate among seniors is not even the highest in Maryland, says Pamela T. Causey of the Maryland Office on Aging.

That distinction goes to Howard County, which will jump from 21,000 senior citizens in 1995 to a projection of almost 35,000 by 2005 -- a 69 percent increase. (Numerically, the total still is far below Baltimore County's projection of 147,000 seniors by 2005. But Baltimore County's numbers represent only a 7.5 percent rise.)

J. Timothy Fagan, former county director of aging, says the growth statistic was true in the mid-1980s and was reported by the media then. Although the figures have changed over the years, the claim has stuck. In the most recent U.S. Census breakdown, Maryland ranks 42nd in its rate of elderly growth. "Maryland has a long way to go up the ladder," said Carol De Vita of the Population Reference Bureau.

Pub Date: 7/05/96

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