Thursday, February 09, 2006

Population Explosion Among Older Americans

Population Explosion Among Older Americans

The United States saw a rapid growth in its elderly population during the 20th century. The number of Americans aged 65 and older climbed above 34.9 million in 2000, compared with 3.1 million in 1900. For the same years, the ratio of elderly Americans to the total population jumped from 1 in 25 to 1 in 8. The trend is guaranteed to continue in the coming century as the baby-boom generation grows older. Between 1990 and 2020, the population aged 65 to 74 is projected to grow 74%.

The elderly population explosion is a result of impressive increases in life expectancy. When the nation was founded, the average American could expect to live to the age of 35. Life expectancy at birth had increased to 47.3 by 1900 and in 2000 stood at 76.9.

Along with the growth of the general elderly population has come a remarkable increase in the number of Americans reaching age 100. In 2000 there were 50,454 centenarians (people aged 100 or over), representing 1 out of every 5,578 people. In 1990 centenarians numbered 37,306 people, or 1 out of every 6,667 people.

Source: Based on U.S. Census Bureau data.


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