Senior citizens account for a greater share of the population of Florida than of any other state in the country: 18.1 percent of the residents of the Sunshine State are over the age of 65, compared with the national weighted average of 12.7 percent. There are some obvious reasons for the state’s popularity among the elderly: It has excellent winter weather and is one of nine states with no income tax.
There’s also some indication that in the past Florida has explicitly courted seniors and encouraged them to relocate there. A 2002 report by then-Governor Jeb Bush’s Destination Florida Commission said this (emphasis mine):
Thinking of retirement as an important industry allows Florida to recognize the economic and social value of current elders and the aging baby boomer population. Retirement is a stable growth industry. Jobs and businesses needed to sustain this industry run the gamut from hospitality to health care, from janitorial workers to neurosurgeons…
…Florida exceeds the national averages for number of hospital beds per resident, Medicare expenditure per beneficiary, and Medicaid home health services.
I could not find any current economic analysis on this topic, so it’s possible that the commission’s guidance went unheeded (please leave links in the comments of any recent studies). Nevertheless, thinking of retirement as a “stable growth industry” seems somewhat counterintuitive to me. Seniors generally have lower incomes and need a lot more healthcare services than most other parts of the population. Given that the federal budget, which pays for Medicare and about 56 percent of Florida’s Medicaid spending, is being targeted for cuts, there’s a risk that the state could get saddled with paying more for seniors’ healthcare.