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A Profile of Older Americans: 2011 Skip to content

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A Profile of Older Americans: 2011


In 2010, the 65+ population represented 13 percent of the U.S. population, and the older adult population is expected to continue to grow significantly in the future, representing 19.3 percent of the population by 2030. As of 2009, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of just over 18 years, and a child born in 2009 was expected to live an average of 78.2 years. Due to the growth of this population and the increase in life expectancy, the Administration on Aging organized a profile of older Americans to better understand who they are and who they will be.

Key Points

This profile of older Americans breaks down the demographic data presented into a number of categories, including marital status, living arrangements, racial and ethnic composition, geographic distribution, income, housing, employment, education, health and health care, disability and activity limitations, and caregiving.

Profile highlights include:

  1. In 2010, 72 percent of older men were married compared to only 42 percent of women, but there were over four times as many widows.
  2. A majority of non-institutionalized older adults lived with their spouse, and as expected, the proportion of these living alone increased with age.
  3. Of older adults 65+, 20 percent were minorities.
  4. In terms of geographic distribution, over half of older adults lived in one of 11 states: California, Florida, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey and Georgia.
  5. Almost 80 percent of 65+ adults lived in metropolitan areas.
  6. For older adults reporting income in 2010, almost 20 percent reported an income less than $10,000, and almost 40 percent reported an income of $25,000 or more, with the median income being $18,819. Major sources of income reported by older adults were Social Security and income from assets.
  7. Nine percent of seniors were at or below the poverty level in 2010.
  8. In 2009, 17.4 percent of older Americans were still working or actively seeking work.
  9. Related to health, in 2009, 40 percent of non-institutionalized adults rated their health as excellent or very good. However, older Americans spent 13 percent of their total expenditures on health-related expenses, which was almost double that of all consumers.

How to Use

When looking at society as a whole, the demographic information on older adults in America is imperative. For local officials and planners, this data is useful as it depicts the big picture, and it can also serve as a comparison for their area.

View full report: A Profile of Older Americans: 2011 (PDF – 432 KB)

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