The older population – persons 65 years or older – numbered 40.4 million in 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.
They represented 13.1 percent of the U.S. population, over one in every eight Americans. The number of older Americans increased by 5.4 million or 15.3 percent since 2000, compared to an increase of 8.7 percent for the under-65 population. However, the number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 31 percent during this period.
In 2010, there were 23.0 million older women and 17.5 million older men, or a sex ratio of 132 women for every 100 men. The female to male sex ratio increases with age, ranging from 112 for the 65-69 age group to a high of 206 for persons 85 and over.
Since 1900, the percentage of Americans 65+ has more than tripled (from 4.1 percent in 1900 to 13.1 percent in 2010), and the number has increased almost 13 times (from 3.1 million to 40.4 million). The older population itself is increasingly older. In 2010, the 65-74 age group (20.8 million) was 10 times larger than in 1900. In contrast, the 75-84 group (13.1 million) was 17 times larger and the 85+ group (5.5 million) was 45 times larger.
In 2009, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 18.8 years (20.0 years for females and 17.3 years for males). A child born in 2009 could expect to live 78.2 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 1990-2007 also has seen reduced death rates for the population aged 65-84, especially for men – by 41.6 percent for men aged 65-74 and by 29.5 percent for men aged 75-84. Life expectancy at age 65 increased by only 2.5 years between 1900 and 1960, but has increased by 4.2 years from 1960 to 2007. Nonetheless, some research has raised concerns about future increases in life expectancy in the US compared to other high-income countries, primarily due to past smoking and current obesity levels, especially for women age 50 and over (National Research Council (2011)).
About 2.6 million persons celebrated their 65th birthday in 2010. In the same year, almost 1.8 million persons 65 or older died. Census estimates showed an annual net increase of 814,406 in the number of persons 65 and over.
There were 53,364 persons aged 100 or more in 2010 (0.13 percent of the total 65+ population). This is a 53 percent increase from the 1990 figure of 37,306.