2009 Profile of Older Americans Published

2009 Profile of Older Americans Published

The Administration on Aging (AoA) recently published a report giving a detailed profile of older Americans in 2009. The data is compiled from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the National Center on Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Below are some highlights.

  • The older population (65+) numbered 38.9 million in 2008, an increase of 4.5 million or 13.0% since 1998.
  • The number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next 2 decades – increased by 31% during this decade.
  • Over 1 in every 8, or 12.8%, of the population is an older American.
  • Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.6 years (19.8 years for females and 17.1 years for males).
  • Older women outnumber older men at 22.4 million older women to 16.5 million older men.
  • In 2008, 19.6% of persons 65+ were minorities–8.3% were African-Americans.** Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 6.8% of the older population. About 3.4% were Asian or Pacific Islander,** and less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan.** In addition, 0.6% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races.
  • Older men were much more likely to be married than older women–72% of men vs. 42% of women (Figure 2). 42% older women in 2002 were widows.
  • About 31% (11.2 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8.3 million women, 2.9 million men).
  • Half of older women (50%) age 75+ live alone.
  • About 471,000 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.
  • The population 65 and over will increase from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010 (a 15% increase) and then to 55 million in 2020 (a 36% increase for that decade).
  • The 85+ population is projected to increase from 4.2 million in 2000 to 5.7 million in 2010 (a 36% increase) and then to 6.6 million in 2020 (a 15% increase for that decade).
  • Minority populations are projected to increase from 5.7 million in 2000 (16.3% of the elderly population) to 8.0 million in 2010 (20.1% of the elderly) and then to 12.9 million in 2020 (23.6% of the elderly).
  • The median income of older persons in 2008 was $25,503 for males and $14,559 for females. Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people did not change in a statistically different amount from 2007 to 2008. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2008 of $44,188.
  • Major sources of income for older people in 2007 were: Social Security (reported by 87% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 52%), private pensions (reported by 28%), government employee pensions (reported by 13%), and earnings (reported by 25%).
  • Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 35% of all Social Security beneficiaries (21% of married couples and 44% of non-married beneficiaries).
  • About 3.7 million elderly persons (9.7%) were below the poverty level in 2008 which is not statistically different from the poverty rate in 2007 (9.7%).
  • About 11% (3.7 million) of older Medicare enrollees received personal care from a paid or unpaid source in 1999.

The full report will be posted on the AoA’s website soon.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.