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CONTENTS

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III
V

Chapter 1

SIZE AND GROWTH OF THE OLDER POPULATION

America is growing older. The older population has increased far more rapidly than the rest of the population for most of this century. Since 1980, an average of 168,000 persons a month have celebrated their 65th birthday. By 1986, the number of centenarians had grown to 25,000.

The following chapter looks at the impact of this aging trend on the population as a whole and on various subgroups within the 65plus population. The projections presented in this section and throughout this report do not imply certainty about future events. They represent forecasts based on continued patterns from the past and assumptions about future trends in fertility, mortality, and net immigration.

AGE DISTRIBUTION

THE OLDER POPULATION HAS DOUBLED IN THIS CENTURY AS A

PROPORTION OF TOTAL POPULATION At the beginning of this century, less than 1 in 10 Americans was 55 and over and 1 in 25 was age 65 and over. By 1987, 1 in 5 Americans was at least 55 years old and 1 in 8 was at least 65.

This century's dramatic increase in the number and proportion of older persons is reflected in the 1987 population estimates prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1987, there were an estimated 51.9 million Americans age 55 or older and 29.8 million who were at least age 65. About 9 percent (22 million) of the total population were 55 to 64 years old, 7 percent (17.7 million) were 65 to 74 years old, 4 percent (9.3 million) were 75 to 84 years old, and 1 percent (2.9 million) were 85 years old and over (table 1-1).

TABLE 1-1.-DISTRIBUTION OF THE POPULATION BY AGE GROUPS: 1987

Age group

Number (in
thousands)

Percent

All ages.

0 to 54. 55 to 64 65 to 74 75 to 84 85-plus. 55-plus. 65-plus.

243,915
192,060
22,019
17,668
9,301
2,867
51,855
29,835

100
79
9
7
4
1
21
12

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census. "United States Population Estimates, by Age, Sex, and Race: 1980–1987.” Current Population Reports Series P-25, No. 1020 (March 1988).

Chapter 1

SIZE AND GROWTH OF THE OLDER POPULATION

America is growing older. The older population has increased far more rapidly than the rest of the population for most of this century. Since 1980, an average of 168,000 persons a month have celebrated their 65th birthday. By 1986, the number of centenarians had grown to 25,000.

The following chapter looks at the impact of this aging trend on the population as a whole and on various subgroups within the 65plus population. The projections presented in this section and throughout this report do not imply certainty about future events. They represent forecasts based on continued patterns from the past and assumptions about future trends in fertility, mortality, and net immigration.

AGE DISTRIBUTION

THE OLDER POPULATION HAS DOUBLED IN THIS CENTURY AS A

PROPORTION OF TOTAL POPULATION At the beginning of this century, less than 1 in 10 Americans was 55 and over and 1 in 25 was age 65 and over. By 1987, 1 in 5 Americans was at least 55 years old and 1 in 8 was at least 65.

This century's dramatic increase in the number and proportion of older persons is reflected in the 1987 population estimates prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1987, there were an estimated 51.9 million Americans age 55 or older and 29.8 million who were at least age 65. About 9 percent (22 million) of the total population were 55 to 64 years old, 7 percent (17.7 million) were 65 to 74 years old, 4 percent (9.3 million) were 75 to 84 years old, and 1 percent (2.9 million) were 85 years old and over (table 1-1).

TABLE 1-1.-DISTRIBUTION OF THE POPULATION BY AGE GROUPS: 1987

Age group

Number (in
thousands)

Percent

All ages.

100 79 9 7

0 to 54 55 to 64 65 to 74 75 to 84 85-plus. 55-plus. 65-plus.

243,915
192,060
22,019
17,668
9,301
2,867
51,855
29,835

1 21 12

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census. "United States Population Estimates, by Age, Sex, and Race: 1980–1987." Current Population Reports Series P-25, No. 1020 (March 1988).

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