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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Profile of Older Americans: 2015

Future Growth

The older population will continue to grow significantly in the future (Figure 1). This growth slowed somewhat during the 1990's because of the relatively small number of babies born during the Great Depression of the 1930's. But the older population is beginning to burgeon as the "baby boom" generation begins to reach age 65.

The population age 65 and over has increased from 36.2 million in 2004 to 46.2 million in 2014 (a 28% increase) and is projected to more than double to 98 million in 2060. By 2040, there will be about 82.3 million older persons, over twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 14.5% of the population in the year 2014 but are expected to grow to be 21.7% of the population by 2040. The 85+ population is projected to triple from 6.2 million in 2014 to 14.6 million in 2040.

Racial and ethnic minority populations have increased from 6.5 million in 2004 (18% of the older adult population) to 10 million in 2014 (22% of older adults) and are projected to increase to 21.1 million in 2030 (28% of older adults). Between 2014 and 2030, the white (not Hispanic) population 65+ is projected to increase by 46% compared with 110% for older racial and ethnic minority populations, including Hispanics (137%), African-Americans (not Hispanic) (90%), American Indian and Native Alaskans (not Hispanic) (93%), and Asians (not Hispanic) (104%).

Figure 1: Number of Persons 65+: 1900-2060 (numbers in millions)
Chart showing the large increases in the older population from 3.1 million people in 1900 to 46.2 million in 2014 and projected to 98.2 million in 2060
Note: Increments in years are uneven.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates and Projections.

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; 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; Intercensal Estimates of the White Alone Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010; 2014 National Population Projections: Summary Tables, Table 3. Projections of the Population by Sex and Selected Age Groups for the United States: 2015 to 2060, released December 10, 2014; and NP2014_D1: Projected Population by Single Year of Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: 2014 to 2060.

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Last Modified: 5/23/2016