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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Profile of Older Americans: 2015

The Older Population

The population age 65 years or older numbered 46.2 million in 2014 (the most recent year for which data are available). They represented 14.5% of the U.S. population, about one in every seven Americans. The number of older Americans increased by 10 million or 28% since 2004, compared to an increase of 6.2% for the under-65 population.

Between 2004 and 2014, the number of Americans aged 45-64 (who will reach age 65 over the next two decades) increased by 17.8% and the number of Americans age 60 and over increased by 32.5% from 48.9 million to 64.8 million.

In 2014, there were 25.9 million older women and 20.4 million older men, or a sex ratio of 127.2 women for every 100 men. At age 85 and over, this ratio increases to 192.2 women for every 100 men.

Since 1900, the percentage of Americans 65+ has more than tripled (from 4.1% in 1900 to 14.5% in 2014), and the number has increased over fourteen times (from 3.1 million to 46.2 million). The older population itself is increasingly older. In 2014, the 65-74 age group (26.4 million) was more than 12 times larger than in 1900; the 75-84 group (13.7 million) was more than 17 times larger, and the 85+ group (6.2 million) was 50 times larger.

In 2014, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 19.3 years (20.5 years for females and 18 years for males). A child born in 2014 could expect to live 78.8 years, about 30 years longer than a child born in 1900. Much of this increase occurred because of reduced death rates for children and young adults. However, the period of 1990-2007 also has seen reduced death rates for the population aged 65-84, especially for men – by 41.6% for men aged 65-74 and by 29.5% for men aged 75-84. Life expectancy at age 65 increased by only 2.5 years between 1900 and 1960, but has increased by 4.2 years from 1960 to 2007. Nonetheless, some research has raised concerns about future increases in life expectancy in the US compared to other high-income countries, primarily due to past smoking and current obesity levels, especially for women age 50 and over.

In 2014, 3.4 million persons celebrated their 65th birthday. Census estimates showed an annual net increase between 2013 and 2014 of 1.5 million in the number of persons age 65 and over.

Between 1980 and 2014, the centenarian population experienced a larger percentage increase than did the total population. There were 72,197 persons aged 100 or more in 2014 (0.2% of the total 65+ population). This is more than double the 1980 figure of 32,194.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014. Release Date: June 2015; Table 1. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010. Release Date: September 2011; Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Single Year of Age and Sex for the United States, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014. Release Date: July 1, 2015; 2010 Census Special Reports, Centenarians: 2010, C2010SR-03, 2012; Hobbs, Frank and Nicole Stoops, Census 2000 Special Reports, Series CENSR-4, Demographic Trends in the 20th Century, Table 5. Population by Age and Sex for the United States: 1900 to 2000, Part A. National Center for Health Statistics, Murphy SL, Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2014, NCHS data brief, no 229. Hyattsville, MD. 2015; and National Research Council, Crimmins EM, Preston SH, Cohen B, editors. Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries. Panel on Understanding Divergent Trends in Longevity in High-Income Countries, 2011.

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Last Modified: 5/23/2016