January 10, 1999

America's Elderly Population and Their Need for Supportive Services

Robert Schafer

W99-3: This paper explores the characteristics of America’s elderly population, using data from the recently available Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest-Old (AHEAD) survey. The elderly make up a substantial and rapidly increasing proportion of the US population. While there were about 20 million persons age 65 or older in 1970 (9.8 percent of the population), the number is expected to grow to 58.9 million (20.2 percent of the population) in 2030. Many characteristics of the elderly, such as the largely female composition, are widely known, but some findings are unexpected. In general, the elderly are distributed geographically in proportion to the population. About half of those 70 or older live with their spouse while 40 percent are widowed. The educational achievement and occupational status of the elderly reflect societal trends: young elderly have higher educational achievement, are more likely to be craftsmen and professionals/managers, and have a smaller difference between men and women in terms of education and occupation…

Category: Working Papers

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