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A Profile of Older Americans: 2012

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 65 and over has increased from 35 million in 2000 to 41.4 million in 2011 (an 18% increase) and is projected to more than double to 92 million in 2060. By 2040, there will be about 79.7 million older persons, over twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 13.3% of the population in the year 2011 but are expected to grow to be 21% of the population by 2040. The 85+ population is projected to triple from 5.7 million in 2011 to 14.1 million in 2040.

Racial and ethnic minority populations have increased from 5.7 million in 2000 (16.3% of the elderly population) to 8.5 million in 2011 (21% of the elderly) and are projected to increase to 20.2 million in 2030 (28% of the elderly). Between 2012 and 2030, the white (not Hispanic) population 65+ is projected to increase by 54% compared with 125% for older racial and ethnic minority populations, including Hispanics (155%), African-Americans (not Hispanic) (104%), American Indian and Native Alaskans (not Hispanic) (116%), and Asians (not Hispanic) (119%).

Figure 1 - this chart shows the large increases in the older population from 3.1 million people in 1900 to 35 million in 2000 and project to 92 million in 2060

Note: Increments in years are uneven.
(Based on online data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 1) Population Estimates and Projections; 2) Table 1. Projected Population by Single Year of Age (0-99, 100+), Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2060, Release Date: 2012; and 3) Table 5. Population by Age and Sex for the United States: 1900 to 2000, Part A. Hobbs, Frank and Nicole Stoops, Census 2000 Special Reports, Series CENSR-4, Demographic Trends in the 20th Century.)

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