Census: America’s 90+ Population to Quadruple, Many Live Alone

The U.S.’s rapidly aging population is causing the Census to consider new metrics and definitions to track older Americans. The population of 90+ Americans is projected to more than quadruple over the course of the next four decades, Census data released this week states. That population nearly tripled over the past 30 years to reach 1.9 million in 2010, comprising 4.7% of the overall population.

“Traditionally, the cutoff age for what is considered the ‘oldest old’ has been age 85,” said Census Bureau demographer Wan He, “but increasingly people are living longer and the older population itself is getting older. Given its rapid growth, the 90-and-older population merits a closer look.”

The 65+ population is also increasing at a strong pace, with certain regions seeing even more of its population go gray (see chart).

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What do recent Census findings tell reverse mortgage providers? First, many older Americans live alone. For 90+ Americans the rate is 37%—equal to the percentage that live in households. Another 37% live in households with more than one person. (Women are more likely to live alone than men.) In contrast, 23% live in institutionalized group quarters. Second, almost half of their income comes from Social Security, with almost a third coming from “other” income.

View the Census report: 90+ in the United States 2006-2008.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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