The Older American Population
In the U.S. the population age 65 and older numbered 54.1 million in 2019 (the most recent year for which data are available). They represented 16% of the population, more than one in every seven Americans. The number of older Americans has increased by 14.4 million (or 36%) since 2009, compared to an increase of 3% for the under-65 population.
Between 2009 and 2019, the number of Americans age 45-64 (who will reach age 65 over the next two decades) increased by 4% from 80.3 million to 83.3 million. The number of Americans age 60 and older increased by 34% from 55.7 million to 74.6 million.
In 2019, 30 million women and 24.1 million men were age 65 and older. That’s 125 women for every 100 men. At age 85 and older, this ratio increased to 178 women for every 100 men.
Since 1900, the percentage of Americans age 65 and older nearly quadrupled (from 4.1% in 1900 to 16% in 2019), and the number increased more than 17 times (from 3.1 million to 54.1 million). The older population itself became increasingly older.
In 2019, the 65-74 age group (31.5 million) was more than 14 times larger than in 1900 (2,186,767); the 75-84 group (16 million) was 20 times larger (771,369), and the 85+ group (6.6 million) was more than 53 times larger (122,362).
In 2019, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an added 19.6 years (20.8 years for women and 18.2 years for men). A child born in 2019 could expect to live 78.8 years, more than 30 years longer than a child born in 1900 (47.3 years).
In 2019, 3.8 million persons celebrated their 65th birthdays. Census Bureau population estimates showed an annual net increase between 2018 and 2019 of 1.7 million people age 65 and over.
Between 1980 and 2019, the centenarian population experienced a larger percentage increase than did the total population. There were 100,322 persons age 100 and older in 2019—more than triple the 1980 figure of 32,194.
The older population is expected to continue to grow significantly in the future. Growth slowed somewhat during the 1990s because of the relatively small number of babies born during the Great Depression of the 1930s. But the older population is beginning to burgeon again as more than two-fifths (41%) of the “baby boom” generation is now age 65 and older.
The population age 65 and older increased from 39.6 million in 2009 to 54.1 million in 2019 (a 36% increase) and is projected to reach 94.7 million in 2060. By 2040, there will be about 80.8 million older persons, more than twice as many as in 2000.
People age 65 and older represented 16% of the population in the year 2019 but are expected to grow to be 21.6% of the population by 2040.
The 85 and older population is projected to more than double from 6.6 million in 2019 to 14.4 million in 2040 (a 118% increase).
Racial and ethnic minority populations increased from 7.8 million in 2009 (20% of older Americans) to 12.9 million in 2019 (24% of older Americans) and are projected to increase to 27.7 million in 2040 (34% of older adults). Between 2019 and 2040, the white (not Hispanic) population age 65 and older is projected to increase by 29% compared to 115% for racial and ethnic minority populations: Hispanic (161%), African American (not Hispanic) (80%), American Indian and Alaska Native (not Hispanic) (67%), and Asian American (not Hispanic) (102%).
In 2020, a larger percentage of older men (70%) than older women (48%) were married. Widows accounted for 30% of all older women in 2020. There were more than three times as many widows (8.8 million) as widowers (2.6 million).
Divorced and separated/spouse absent older persons represented only 15% of all older persons in 2020, which is unchanged from 2019. However, this percentage has increased since 1980, when approximately 5% of the older population were divorced or separated/spouse absent.
Of the older adults living in the community, more than half (61%) of persons age 65 and older lived with their spouse (including partner) in 2020. Approximately 18 million or 73% of older men, and 15 million or 50% of older women, lived with their spouse.
About 27% (14.7 million) of all older adults living in the community in 2020 lived alone (5 million men, 9.7 million women). They represented 20% of older men and 33% of older women. The proportion living alone increases with advanced age for both men and women. Among women age 75 and older, for example, 42% lived alone.Read the full report here
Source: This report was prepared by the Administration on Aging (AoA), part of the Administration for Community Living, an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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