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Facts About Older Americans

Census Bureau Collects Data on Seniors for Older Americans Month 2004

April 28, 2004 - Older Americans Month originated with a presidential proclamation in May 1963 and it has been proclaimed each May by presidents every year since. Last year, President Bush stated, "Older Americans continue to work in a variety of jobs -- from teachers, to engineers, to business owners and entrepreneurs -- and in so doing bring invaluable experience and leadership skills. Additionally, their wisdom, strength and compassion reflect the character of our great nation."

35.9 million -- The number of people 65 and over in the United States on July 1, 2003. That is 12 percent of the total population. Since Census 2000, 927,000 people have moved into this age group.

86.7 million -- Projected population of people 65 and over in the year 2050. People in this age group would comprise 21 percent of the total population at that time.

147 percent -- Projected percentage increase in the 65-and-over population between 2000 and 2050. By comparison, the population as a whole would have increased by only 49 percent over the same period.

Income & Wealth

$120,000 -- Median net worth of households with householders ages 70 to 74.

$23,152 -- Median 2002 income of households with householders 65 and over, statistically unchanged, in real terms, from the previous year.

10.4 percent -- Poverty rate for people 65 and over in 2002, statistically unchanged from the previous year.

Serving Our Nation

9.1 million -- Estimated number of people age 65 and over who are military veterans.


4.5 million -- Number of people age 65 and over who are still employed a ratio of more than 1-in-8 people in this age group.


Among the older population, men are more likely than women to have a bachelor's degree or higher education. Among people ages 65 to 84, 22 percent of men and 13 percent of women have achieved this level of education; for those 85 and over, the respective rates are 17 percent and 12 percent.

Marital Status and Living Arrangements

Among the population 65 to 84, the majority of men (74 percent) are married and living with their spouses, compared with less than half (45 percent) of women in that age group. For people 85 and over, the corresponding percentages are much lower: 58 percent of men and only 12 percent of women.


72 percent -- Percentage of citizens ages 65 to 74 who voted in the last presidential election; that is the highest rate of any age group.


81 percent -- Proportion of householders age 65 and over who own their homes. This compares with 68 percent for all householders.

Population Distribution


71 -- Overall, the number of men age 65 and over on July 1, 2002, for every 100 women in this age group. For those in the 65- to-74 age group, the ratio is 83 men for every 100 women and for those 85 and over, it drops to 43 men to 100 women.

58,684 -- Estimated number of centenarians in the United States on July 1, 2002.

States and Counties

17 percent -- Percentage of Florida's population that was 65 and over on July 1, 2003. Florida led all states in this category. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Dakota and Iowa followed closely, at 15 percent each.

15 percent -- Percentage increase in the number of people age 65 and over in Nevada between Census Day, April 1, 2000, and July 1, 2003. A state not traditionally thought of as a retirement haven Alaska -- was close behind, with a 14 percent increase. The next five states on the list -- Arizona, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico and Colorado -- also are located in the West.

3.8 million -- Number of people 65 and over living in California on July 1, 2003, the highest total of any state. Florida, with 2.9 million, was the runner-up.

34 percent -- Percentage of Charlotte County, Fla., population, that consists of people 65 and over the highest such proportion in the nation. Florida was home to each of the 12 counties with the highest concentration of people 65 and over. (The findings pertain to counties with minimum populations of 100,000.)

21 percent -- Percentage increase in the 65-and-over population in Douglas County, Colo., between 2000 and 2002, the highest such increase for any county in the country. (The findings pertain to counties with minimum populations of 100,000.)

Sports Activities

The most popular sports activity among people 65 and over, by far, is exercise walking: 9.4 million people in this age category engage in this activity at least six times a year. The next most popular forms of exercise are swimming (3.4 million participants), exercising with equipment (3.1 million) and playing golf (2.5 million). See Table 1247:

Note from Census Bureau: Some of the preceding data were collected in surveys and, therefore, are subject to sampling error.

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