Elderly population Statistics

Number of Older Americans

growth of the population age 65 and over affects many aspects of our society,
challenging policymakers, families, businesses, and health care providers,
among others, to meet the needs of aging individuals.

  • In 2008, 39 million people age
    65 and over lived in the United States, accounting for 13 percent of the
    total population. The older population grew from 3 million in 1900 to 39
    million in 2008. The oldest-old population (those age 85 and over) grew
    from just over 100,000 in 1900 to 5.7 million in 2008.
  • The baby boomers (those born
    between 1946 and 1964) will start turning 65 in 2011, and the number of
    older people will increase dramatically during the 2010–2030 period. The
    older population in 2030 is projected to be twice as large as their
    counterparts in 2000, growing from 35 million to 72 million and
    representing nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population.
  • The growth rate of the older
    population is projected to slow after 2030, when the last Baby Boomers
    enter the ranks of the older population. From 2030 onward, the proportion
    age 65 and over will be relatively stable, at around 20 percent, even
    though the absolute number of people age 65 and over is projected to
    continue to grow. The oldest-old population is projected to grow rapidly
    after 2030, when the Baby Boomers move into this age group.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau projects
    that the population age 85 and over could grow from 5.7 million in 2008 to
    19 million by 2050. Some researchers predict that death rates at older
    ages will decline more rapidly than is reflected in the U.S. Census
    Bureau’s projections, which could lead to faster growth of this


  • The proportion of the
    population age 65 and over varies by state. This proportion is partly
    affected by the state fertility and mortality levels and partly by the
    number of older and younger people who migrate to and from the state. In
    2008, Florida had the highest proportion of people age 65 and over, 17
    percent. Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia also had high proportions,
    over 15 percent.
  • The proportion of the
    population age 65 and over varies even more by county. In 2008, 36 percent
    of McIntosh County, North Dakota, was age 65 and over, the highest
    proportion in the country. In several Florida counties, the proportion was
    over 30 percent. At the other end of the spectrum was Chattahoochee
    County, Georgia, with only 3 percent of its population age 65 and over.
  • Older women outnumbered older
    men in the United States, and the proportion that is female increased with
    age. In 2008, women accounted for 58 percent of the population age 65 and
    over and for 67 percent of the population 85 and over.
  • The United  States is fairly
    young  for a developed country, with 13 percent of its population aged 65
    and over in 2008. Japan had the highest percent of 65 and over (22
    percent) among countries with at least 100,000 population. The older
    population made up more than 15 percent of the population in most European
    countries, 20 percent in Germany and Italy.