A Profile of Older Americans: 2004
The Older Population
The older population--persons 65 years or older--numbered 35.9 million
in 2003 (the most recent year for which data are available) . They represented
12.4% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. The
number of older Americans increased by 3.1 million or 9.5% since 1993,
compared to an increase of 13.3% for the under-65 population. However,
the number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the
next two decades – increased by 39% during this period.
In 2003, there were 21.0 million older women and 14.9 million older
men, or a sex ratio of 140 women for every 100 men. The female to male
sex ratio increases with age, ranging from 115 for the 65-69 age group
to a high of 226 for persons 85 and over.
Since 1900, the percentage of Americans 65+ has tripled (from 4.1%
in 1900 to 12.4% in 2004), and the number has increased eleven times
(from 3.1 million to 35.9 million). The older population itself is getting
older. In 2003, the 65-74 age group (18.3 million) was eight times larger
than in 1900, but the 75-84 group (12.9 million) was 17 times larger
and the 85+ group (4.7 million) was 38.5 times larger.
In 2002, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of
an additional 18.2 years (19.5 years for females and 16.6 years for males).
A child born in 2002 could expect to live 77.3 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 1980-2002 also has seen reduced death rates for the population aged
65-84, especially for men – by 30.4% for men aged 65-74 and by
23.3% for men aged 75-84. Life expectancy at age 65 increased by only
2.5 years between 1900 and 1960, but has increased by 3.9 years from
1960 to 2002.
Over 2.0 million persons celebrated their 65th birthday in 2003. In
the same year, about 1.8 million persons 65 or older died. Census estimates
showed an annual net increase of over 317,000 in the number of persons
65 and over.
There were 50,639 persons aged 100 or more in 2003 (0.17% of the total
population). This is a 36% increase from the 1990 figure of 37,306.
(Data for this section were compiled primarily from Internet
releases of the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the National Center
for Health Statistics).
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