A new study of black and white Americans projects black individuals may have less family to lean on as they age. It also shows a continued increase in the number of Americans without living kin.

Why it matters: As we age, we tend to rely on children and spouses for help. An estimated 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in 2015, and 42% of caregivers are caring for a parent. They are, in other words, a pillar of health care in an aging America.

Expand chart
Data: Verdery and Margolis, PNAS, 2017; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Key findings:

  • Rachel Margolis from the University of Western Ontario and Ashton Verdery from Penn State University project 21.1 million black and white individuals over 50 will be without a living partner or children in 2060, an increase in step with population growth.
  • When siblings and parents are included, the percentage of non-Hispanic whites age 50 and older without any close living kin will double by 2060. For non-Hispanic blacks, it will triple. "Together, we estimate that there will be 6.3 million whites and blacks without a living partner, children, siblings, or parents in 2060," they wrote.
  • Biggest factors: An increase in childlessness, never marrying and mortality — "black Americans are twice as likely to lose a child or spouse by the age of 50," says Verdery, citing recent research.
  • Limitation: There wasn't sufficient data to study other racial groups.

"Kinless-ness should be of interest to policy makers because it is more common among those with social, economic and health risks; those who live alone, with low levels of wealth, and disability," the researchers wrote.

Yes, but: The projection doesn't take into account, on the one hand, people who may have children but have become socially isolated from them, or the impact of incarceration. In that sense, the projection could be an underestimate of the family people interact with but it also doesn't factor in the other relationships people form and draw upon, especially individuals who know they won't be married or have children.

Kinless-ness therefore doesn't necessarily mean social isolation — or neediness, says the Urban Institute's Steven Martin, who points out that people in their 50s who never had children could have more resources and be relatively well-off in some respects.

"At least this gives us a baseline understanding of what direction this is headed," says Verdery.

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 19,128,901 — Total deaths: 715,555— Total recoveries — 11,591,028Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,884,406 — Total deaths: 160,111 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: U.S. economy adds 1.8 million jobs in July — Household debt and credit delinquencies dropped in Q2.
  5. Sports: The pandemic's impact on how sports are played.
  6. 1 🎮 thing: Video gaming growth soars.

Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The White House is finalizing a series of executive orders addressing key coronavirus stimulus priorities if negotiations with Congress fall apart, and it's leaving the door open for President Trump to use them even if a deal is reached that doesn't encompass all of his priorities, two administration officials tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: “I wouldn't be surprised that, if something gets left off the table, we’d be like ‘we can take this executive action too and be able to win on it anyway,’” one official said.

46 mins ago - Technology

TikTok responds to Trump executive order: "We are shocked"

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TikTok said Friday that it was "shocked" by President Trump's executive order that will ban Americans from dealing with ByteDance, its China-based owner, in 45 days.

Why it matters: TikTok argued that Trump's move "risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth."