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The Aging of America

65+ population growing faster than total U.S. population
  • January 16 2012

Older Americans—those 65 and older—now make up a larger percent of the population than ever before. According to the 2010 Census, there were 40.3 million people 65 and older on April 1, 2010, representing 13 percent of the total population.

The number of older American increased by 5.3 million—or 15.1 percent—since the 2000 Census when this population numbered 35.0 million. That is significantly faster than the overall population growth rate of 9.7 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Among five-year age groups in the older population, 65- to 69-year-olds grew the fastest. This age group grew by 30.4 percent, rising from 9.5 million to 12.4 million. The 65- to 69-year-old group is expected to grow more rapidly over the next decade as the first baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011.

Examining the growth of 10-year age groups within the older population shows that 85- to 94-year-olds experienced the fastest growth between 2000 and 2010. This group grew by 29.9 percent, increasing from 3.9 million to 5.1 million.

While women continue to outnumber men in the older ages, men were closing the gap over the decade by increasing at a faster rate than women. The number of men per 100 women in the older ages has increased over time as differences in male and female mortality continued to narrow and more males entered into the older population. For most single years of age above age 65, the ratio of men to women was higher in 2010 than in 2000 and 1990.

Comparisons across the nation's four regions in 2010 show that the South contained the greatest number of people 65 and older at 14.9 million, followed by the Midwest at 9.0 million, and the West at 8.5 million. The Northeast had the smallest number of people 65 and older at 7.8 million but also had the highest percentage of people 65 and older at 14.1 percent. Following the Northeast was the Midwest at 13.5 percent and the South at 13.0 percent. The West had the smallest percentage of people 65 and older at 11.9 percent.

Compared with other states, Florida had the greatest share of the population that was 65 and older in 2010 (17. 3 percent). West Virginia (16.0 percent), Maine (15.9 percent), Pennsylvania (15.4 percent) and Iowa (14.9 percent) followed in 2010.


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