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Susan Farrer or Linda Joy
National Institute on Aging
The face of aging in the United States is changing dramatically — and rapidly, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Today’s older Americans are very different from their predecessors, living longer, having lower rates of disability, achieving higher levels of education and less often living in poverty. And the baby boomers, the first of whom celebrated their 60th birthdays in 2006, promise to redefine further what it means to grow older in America.
“The social and economic implications of an aging population — and of the baby boom in particular — are likely to be profound for both individuals and society,” says Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.
The report, 65+ in the United States: 2005 [PDF], was commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health, to provide a picture of the health and socioeconomic status of the aging population. It highlights striking shifts in aging on a population scale and also describes changes at the local and even family level, examining, for example, changes in family structure as a result of divorce.
“The collection, analysis and reporting of reliable data are critical to informing policy as the nation moves ahead to address the challenges and opportunities of an aging population,” says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “This report tells us that we have made a lot of progress in improving the health and well-being of older Americans, but there is much left to do.”
Among the trends:
The 65+ report is a project of the NIA’s Behavioral and Social Research Program, which supports the collection and analyses of data in several national and international studies on health, retirement, and aging. The program’s director, Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., suggests that, with five years to go before the baby boom turns 65, “Many people have an image of aging that may be 20 years out of date. The very current portrait presented here shows how much has changed and where trends may be headed in the future.”
The 243-page compendium examines in detail five key areas: growth of the older population (changes in age and racial/ethnic composition), longevity and health (life expectancy and causes of death), economic characteristics (income and household wealth), geographic distribution (by population and race) and social and other characteristics (marital status, living arrangements and voting patterns).
The report covers a wide range of topics and timelines, pulling together data from Census 2000 and previous censuses, nationally representative surveys and recent population projections. In addition to the data compiled by other federal agencies, including the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the report also includes statistics from the Current Population Survey; American Housing Survey; National Health Interview Survey; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; Survey of Income and Program Participation; and the Health and Retirement Study.
The Census Bureau is the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. For more information, visit the Census Bureau Web site <www.census.gov>.
The NIA is the lead federal agency conducting and supporting basic, biomedical, and behavioral and social research on aging and the special needs and problems of older people. For more information, visit the NIA Web site at <www.nia.nih.gov> or call toll free 1-800-222-2225.
No news release associated with this report. Tip Sheet only.