Look out, kids. Your grandparents are taking over. New Census figures shod the 65 and up group is now the largest in terms of size and percent of the U.S. population -- and it's also the fastest-growing.
According to the 2010 Census, there were 40.3 million people 65 and older on April 1, 2010, increasing by 5.3 million since the 2000 Census when this population numbered 35.0 million. The percentage of the population 65 and older also increased during the previous decade.
In 2010, the older population represented 13.0 percent of the total population, an increase from 12.4 percent in 2000.
Between 2000 and 2010, the population 65 and older grew 15.1 percent, while the total U.S. population grew 9.7 percent. The opposite happened between 1990 and 2000 when the growth of the older population was slower than the growth of the total population, with growth rates of 12.0 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.
Examining the growth of 10-year age groups within the older population shows that 85- to 94-year-olds experienced the fastest growth between 2000 and 2010. This group grew by 29.9 percent, increasing from 3.9 million to 5.1 million.
Among five-year age groups in the older population, 65- to 69-year-olds grew the fastest. This age group grew by 30.4 percent, rising from 9.5 million to 12.4 million. The 65- to 69-year-old group is expected to grow more rapidly over the next decade as the first baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011.
The only older population age group to decline between 2000 and 2010 was the 75- to 79-year-old age group. This group decreased by 1.3 percent from 7.4 million to 7.3 million. The changes in this group mainly reflect the relatively low number of births during the early 1930s as fewer numbers of people entered these ages between 2000 and 2010.
Old guys closing the gap
While women continue to outnumber men in the older ages, men have continued to close the gap over the decade by increasing at a faster rate than women. The largest growth rate for a 10-year age group within the older population was for men 85 to 94 years old (46.5 percent). Women in this age group also increased but to a smaller degree (22.9 percent).
When five-year age groups are compared, men 90 to 94 years old had the fastest growth rate (50.3 percent) while women increased the fastest in the 65- to 69-year-old age group (28.2 percent).
The number of men per 100 women in the older ages has increased over time as differences in male and female mortality continued to narrow and more males entered into the older population. For most single years of age above age 65, the ratio of men to women was higher in 2010 than in 2000 and 1990.
In the 2010 Census, there were approximately twice as many women as men at age 89 (361,309 compared with 176,689, respectively). This doubling point occurred about four years older than it did in 2000 and six years older than it did in 1990, illustrating the narrowing gap in mortality between men and women at the older ages.
South is oldest
Comparisons across the nation's four regions in 2010 show that the South contained the greatest number of people 65 and older at 14.9 million, followed by the Midwest at 9.0 million, and the West at 8.5 million. The Northeast had the smallest number of people 65 and older at 7.8 million but also had the highest percentage of people 65 and older at 14.1 percent.
85+ growing fast
Between 2000 and 2010, all states experienced increases in the number of people who were 85 and older. However, the magnitude of growth varied among states.
Alaska had the largest percent change between 2000 and 2010 (78.9 percent), increasing from 2,634 in 2000 to 4,711 in 2010. Mississippi had the smallest growth rate (3.4 percent) and increased from 42,891 in 2000 to 44,359 in 2010. Alaska was also the state with the lowest number and percentage of the population 85 and older when compared with other states.
- In the 2010 Census, there were 53,364 centenarians (people 100 and older), an increase of 5.8 percent since 2000.
- The number of people 65 and older more than doubled in 21 counties in the United States.
- Approximately 1.3 million people 65 and older - or 3.1 percent of this population - lived in skilled-nursing facilities in 2010.