A Statistical Profile of Black Older Americans Aged 65+
Almost 37.9 million Americans were aged 65 and over. Three in five
people in this age group are women. Over the next forty years, the number of
people aged 65 and older is expected to double and the number of people aged 85
and older is expected to triple. Along with general trends for America’s population, the African American or Black population is living longer.
Older Black Population: Past, Present, and Future
The Black or African
American older population was 3.2 million in 2008 and is projected to grow to
over 9.9 million by 2050. In 2008, African American persons made up 8.3 percent
of the older population. By 2050, the percentage of the older population that
is African American is projected to account for 11 percent of the older
In 2008, 50% of
Black elderly lived in eight states: New York (9.1%), Florida (7.1%),
California (6.5%), Texas (6.4%), Georgia (6.1%), North Carolina (5.5%), Illinois (5.4%),
and Virginia (4.4%).
The past four
decades have seen a significant increase in educational attainment among older
Americans, including Black older Americans. In 2008 over 60% of the Black
population aged 65 and older had finished high school, compared with 1970, when
only 9% of Black elderly were high school graduates. Also in 2008, over 12%
of Black older persons had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
there are still educational differences among racial and ethnic groups.
In 2008, 77% of all older persons were high school graduates, while in 1970, 27% of all
older persons were high school graduates. Also in 2008, 21% of all older persons had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In 2008, 54% of older Black men lived with their spouses, 11% lived with other relatives, 4
percent lived with non-relatives, and 30 percent lived alone. For older Black women,
25% lived with their spouses, 32 percent lived with other relatives, 2 percent lived
with non-relatives, and 42 percent lived alone.
Households containing families headed by Black persons aged 65+ reported a median income in 2008 of $35,025. The comparable figure for all older households was $44,188.
The median personal income for Black men was $19,161 and $12,499 for Black women.
The comparable figures for all elderly were $25,503 for men and $14,559 for women.
The poverty rate in 2008 for Black elderly (65 and older) was 20% which was more than twice the rate
for all elderly (9.7%). Nonetheless, the 20% figure represents a significant
decline (from 48% in 1968) in the poverty rate for Black elderly over four
Since 1960, life
expectancy at age 65 increased by 2.6 years for Black men and 3.6
years for Black women. In 2007, Black males had an average life expectancy at age 65 of
an additional 15.3 years (to 80.3 years) and Black women had a life expectancy
of 18.7 additional years (to 83.7 years). These figures are 1.3 years less than
the figures for all elderly men and 1.1 years less than the figure for all
– Rated Health Status Health
In the years 2006-2008, about 65% of African American older men and 61% of African American older women
reported good or excellent health.Among the total 65+ population, this figure
was 74% for men and 74% for women. Among the total 65+ population, this
figure was 76% for men and 76% for women. Positive health evaluations decline with
age. For example, during 2006-2008, among African American women ages 65-74, 65%
reported good or excellent health, compared with 51% among those aged 85 or
Most Black older
persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions.
Among the most frequently occurring conditions among Black elderly in 2005-2007 were: hypertension (84%), diagnosed arthritis (53%), all types of heart
disease (27%), sinusitis (15%), diabetes (29%), and cancer (13%). The comparable
figures for all older persons were: hypertension (71%), diagnosed arthritis (49%),
all types of heart disease (31%), sinusitis (14%), diabetes (18%), and cancer (22%).
In the years 2006-2008, 96% of Black elderly reported that they did
have a usual source of care. Only 16% reported (in 2003) that they or a family
member was unable to obtain or was delayed in receiving needed medical care. In 2008, 34% of Black elderly had both Medicare and supplementary
private health insurance while 54% of all elderly had both Medicare and
supplementary private health insurance.
(Source: 2009 Census Current Population Survey/Annual Social
and Economic Supplement)
in Older Americans Act (OAA) Programs
In 2008, State and Area Agencies on Aging provided services to a
total of 10.7 million persons aged 60 and older. Consistent with the targeting
requirements of the OAA, the “aging network” placed considerable emphasis on
services to persons with the greatest social and economic need, including members
of racial and ethnic minority groups, especially those who are poor. Among the
OAA Title III service recipients, 11% were non-Hispanic Black or African
The data for this document are taken from a variety of U.S. Government sources with
differing sample sizes and designs. These include various releases of the Bureau
of the Census, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality. The last section, Participation in Older Americans Act Programs,
reports data collected from State Agencies on Aging about persons served with Older
Americans Act funds
FOR MORE INFORMATION
AoA recognizes the importance of making information readily available to consumers,
professionals, researchers, and students. Our website provides information for and
about older persons, their families, and professionals involved in aging programs
and services. For more information about AoA, please contact: U.S. Administration
on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, One Massachusetts Ave.,
N.W., Washington, D.C., 20001; phone: (202) 401-4541; fax (202) 357-3560; Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org; or contact our website at: www.aoa.gov
Last Updated: January 2010