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By 2040, One in Five Americans Will Be Over Age 65

New federal report documents a rapidly aging population with longer life expectancies

Mature adults cheer in a cowd

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The population in America is increasingly older and one that is destined to live longer than previous generations.

Three and a half million Americans celebrated their 65th birthday in 2016 — 1.5 million more than those who reached that milestone in 2015, according to a new federal report that statistically profiles the nation’s older adults. Today, about one in every seven Americans is over the age of 65 and by 2040 that number will swell to one in five.

The annual report, produced by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), primarily uses U.S. Census Bureau data. Its 2017 Profile of Older Americans reveals an increasingly older population and one that is destined to live longer than previous generations. According to the report, women who reached age 65 in 2016 on average can expect to live to 85.6 years old and men to age 83.

ACL, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, also draws on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for this report. The numbers confirm that the number of older Americans is growing at an accelerating pace and will continue. That’s no surprise, given how Americans are approaching their older years. The number of Americans ages 45 to 64 — who will turn 65 over the next two decades — increased by 12 percent between 2006 and 2016.

Looking ahead, the report predicts that the number of Americans age 65 and over will nearly double to 98 million by 2060. And the number of Americans age 85 and older is projected to more than double from 2016 to 2040 – increasing from 6.4 million to 14.6 million.

Besides increasing in number, older Americans are also becoming somewhat more diverse. The percentage of racial and ethnic minorities age 65 has grown from 19 percent (6.9 million) of the population in 2006 to 23 percent (11 million) of Americans in 2016. For example, the percentage of older African Americans grew from 8.3 percent in 2006 to 9 percent in 2016 while Hispanics grew from 6.4 percent of Americans over 65 in 2006 to 8 percent in 2016.