65+ in the United States: 2005

December 2005
Report Number: P23-209
Wan He, Manisha Sengupta, Victoria A. Velkoff, and Kimberly A. DeBarros


Population aging is one of the most important demographic dynamics affecting families and societies throughout the world. The growth of the population aged 65 and over is challenging policy makers, families, businesses, and health care providers, among others, to meet the needs of aging individuals.

This report analyzes data for the population 65 and older, disaggregated into narrower age groups where possible. The following terms are used for some of the component age groups: the young old (those aged 65 to 74), the oldest old (those aged 85 and over), and centenarians (those aged 100 and over). Deviations from the standard age groups are noted in the text.

How people experience aging depends on a variety of factors, including social and economic characteristics and health status, which are discussed in subsequent chapters in this report. The second chapter looks at the growth of the older population over the 20th century and into the 21st century, and includes data on race and Hispanic origin. The last section of this chapter provides a global context on population aging. The third chapter focuses on the health status of the older population. Trends in mortality are examined, and chronic diseases and disability are discussed. The fourth chapter covers economic characteristics of the older population, including trends in labor force participation and retirement. Data on wealth, income, and poverty are also presented. In the fifth chapter, geo-graphic distribution and mobility of the older population are discussed. The sixth chapter examines social characteristics of the older population, such as marital status, living arrangements, and educational attainment.