Elderly population in U.S. by state
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimates:
- Over 50 million senior citizens live in the U.S., making up 16.5% of the total population.
- Florida has the highest percentage of senior citizens (21%), followed by Maine (20%).
- Utah has the lowest percentage of senior citizens (10.8%), followed by Alaska (11.1%).
- California is home to the largest total population of senior citizens (over 5.4 million), followed by Florida (4.2 million).
As baby boomers age, state populations are seeing an increase in residents over 65. The states experiencing the highest growth rates among senior populations since estimates from 2010 to 2014 are Vermont (3.1%), Maine (3%), Delaware (2.8%) and New Hampshire (2.8%).
Ratio of elderly by state
Currently, Florida and Maine have the highest percentage of senior citizens. Alaska and Utah have the lowest.
Vermont, Maine, Delaware and New Hampshire saw the highest rates of growth among their senior populations since the estimates from 2010 to 2014.
|State||Total population||Percentage over 65|
|District of Columbia||692,683||12.1%|
|Percentage over 65||20.1%||20%||19.4%||18.8%||18.2%||18.2%||17.8%||17.8%||17.5%||17.2%||17.2%||17.1%||16.9%||16.8%||16.8%||16.7%||16.7%||16.7%||16.6%||16.5%||16.5%||16.5%||16.3%||16.2%||16.1%||16%||16%||15.9%||15.9%||15.7%||15.4%||15.4%||15.4%||15.4%||15.4%||15.4%||15.4%||15.3%||15.2%||15.1%||15%||15%||15%||14.9%||14%||13.8%||13.5%||12.3%||12.1%||11.2%||10.8%|
Aging population trends
As baby boomers age, state populations are seeing an increase in residents over 65. Since the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 to 2014 estimates, the states with the highest rates of growth among its senior populations are Vermont (3.1%), Maine (3%), Delaware (2.8%) and New Hampshire (2.8%).
Even states like Alaska, with lower rates of elderly residents, are experiencing sharp increases in the over-65 population. Alaska’s senior population grew 2.7% since the estimates from 2010 to 2014.
Outside of Florida, other popular areas for older residents are Brookings, Oregon (33.1%), Mountain Home, Arkansas (31.5%), and Prescott, Arizona (30.8%).
One-quarter of Florida’s population will be over 65 in 2040.
On the local level, certain cities are particularly popular among older residents. Florida is home to a significant number of cities where people over 65 make up a large share of the population. These include The Villages (81.6%), Punta Gorda (54.1%), Homosassa Springs (30.1%) and Sebring (26.6%).
Florida is home to so many older residents because of its abundance of retirement communities in walkable cities, warm weather and lack of estate taxes. A study from the University of Florida estimates that by 2040, more than 25% of Florida’s population will be over 65.
While Florida is well-known for its popularity among retirees, states like Maine and Vermont owe their large percentages of people over 65 to a combination of out-of-state retiree immigration, aging residents, low fertility rates and a plummeting population of young people.
Maine divides its older populations into two groups: those who age in place and those who join retirement communities. Older Americans who age in place face higher rates of economic insecurity, especially in rural areas.
Counties in the northern part of Maine, which have lower rates of senior immigration, have higher poverty rates among the elderly than counties in the southern part of the state, where retirement communities have more residents from out of the state or region. In Somerset County the elderly poverty rate is 14.1%. Cumberland County, which includes cities like Portland, has an elderly poverty rate of 6.1%.
Elderly population by state
A little over 25% of all U.S. seniors live in California, Florida or Texas. Alaska and Wyoming have the lowest total populations over 65.
|State||Total population over 65||Percent of national over-65 population|
|District of Columbia||83,670||0.2%|
|Total population over 65||5,486,041||4,205,428||3,462,527||3,146,306||2,281,720||1,942,534||1,941,294||1,666,343||1,628,013||1,410,285||1,406,485||1,271,946||1,206,748||1,117,673||1,107,089||1,075,124||1,023,588||1,006,725||953,571||902,678||863,558||858,698||804,881||773,706||710,138||709,555||698,018||603,394||601,053||525,522||498,778||461,022||457,181||449,327||352,687||352,114||333,949||294,069||267,568||264,889||253,606||235,795||190,711||177,889||174,174||141,534||117,264||112,883||91,462||83,670||82,583|
|Percent of national over-65 population||10.8%||8.3%||6.8%||6.2%||4.5%||3.8%||3.8%||3.3%||3.2%||2.8%||2.8%||2.5%||2.4%||2.2%||2.2%||2.2%||2%||2%||1.9%||1.8%||1.7%||1.7%||1.6%||1.5%||1.4%||1.4%||1.4%||1.2%||1.2%||1%||1%||0.9%||0.9%||0.9%||0.7%||0.7%||0.7%||0.6%||0.5%||0.5%||0.5%||0.5%||0.4%||0.4%||0.3%||0.3%||0.2%||0.2%||0.2%||0.2%||0.2%|
Aging population predictions
Since 1950, the rate of people over 65 has grown 111%, from 8% of the total population to 16.9% today. The sharpest increase in the aging population happened in the 2010s, when baby boomers began reaching 65. By 2030, all baby boomers will be over the age of 65.
States with larger aging populations may face future issues, including a surplus of homes for sale, a shortage of workers for both assisted living facilities and the general job market, declining economic growth and strain on their welfare and health care systems. Eldercare costs for older residents can be three to five times higher than care for someone under 65.
Increased desire to “age in place”
Recent studies from AARP and the U.S. Census Bureau show a growing interest in aging in place among boomers and other generations. Specifically, the AARP survey estimates that 76% of individuals older than 50 want to stay in their homes as they age.
Vermont had the highest rate of growth among its senior population since the census estimates from 2010 to 2014.
If these desires to age in place hold true for the next few decades, it could change the rates of growth among aging populations. States with fewer older residents may see an increase in their over-65 population, while states where older Americans tend to move might see slower rates of growth among their populations over 65.
Declining birth rates
States with aging populations tend to have lower birth rates. In Maine, there are 50.6 births for every 1,000 women, and in Florida the rate is 56.8.
On the national level, the birth rate is declining. This, combined with a large subset of the population reaching 65, could reshape the U.S. population pyramid. In the past, the U.S. population had a stronger base of younger people with a narrower top of older residents.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates this pyramid may transform into more of a pillar shape in future years. Beyond the reasons noted above, this is also due to longer life expectancies.
Median age by state
Maine has the highest median age in the United States: 44.7 years. Utah has the youngest median age: 30.8 years.
|State||Total population||Median age|
|District of Columbia||692,683||34|
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “Population by Age and State.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “2019 ACS Five-Year Community Survey.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- Office of Economic & Demographic Research, “Florida Population by Age Group.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- AP News, “Thousands needed to sustain Maine’s population in future.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- Bangor Daily News, “Maine is still the oldest state in the nation.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- Center for American Progress, “Elderly Poverty: The Challenge Before Us.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- University of Florida, “The Future of Aging Is Florida.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- AARP, “2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Ages 18-Plus.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Old Housing, New Needs: Are U.S. Homes Ready for an Aging Population?” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- Statistica, “Share of old age population (65 years and older) in the total U.S. population from 1950 to 2050.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “2020 Census Will Help Policymakers Prepare for the Incoming Wave of Aging Boomers.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “Population estimates and projections.” Accessed May 18, 2021.
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