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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 35.5 million in 2002 to 43.1 million in 2012 (a 21% 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 13.7% of the population in the year 2012 but are expected to grow to be 21% of the population by 2040. The 85+ population is projected to triple from 5.9 million in 2012 to 14.1 million in 2040.

Racial and ethnic minority populations have increased from 6.1 million in 2002 (17% of the elderly population) to 8.9 million in 2012 (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 126% 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 is a chart showing the large increases in the older population from 3.1 million people in 1900 to 43.1 million in 2012 and projected to 92 million in 2060.

Note: Increments in years are uneven.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates and Projections.


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates, Vintage 1980-2012, National Estimates by Age, Sex, Race: 1900-1979 (PE-11) ; 2012 National Population Projections Summary Tables, Table 2. Projections of the Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for the United States: 2015 to 2060, Middle Series. (NP2012-T2), Released December 2012; and Table 1. Projected Population by Single Year of Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: 2012 to 2060, Released December 2012.

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