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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO: www.AgingStats.gov