Profile of Older Americans

Administration on Aging (AoA)

Profile of Older Americans: 2015


  • The population age 65 and over numbered 46.2 million in 2014, an increase 10 million or 28% since 2004.

  • Between 2004 and 2014 the population age 60 and over increased 32.5% from 48.9 million to 64.8 million.

  • The number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades—increased by 17.8% between 2004 and 2014.

  • About one in every seven, or 14.5%, of the population is an older American.

  • Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.3 years (20.5 years for females and 18 years for males).

  • There were 72,197 persons aged 100 or more in 2014 (0.2% of the total 65+ population).

  • Older women outnumber older men at 25.9 million older women to 20.4 million older men.

  • In 2014, 22% of persons 65+ were members of racial or ethnic minority populations—9% were African-Americans (not Hispanic), 4% were Asian or Pacific Islander (not Hispanic), 0.5% were Native American (not Hispanic), 0.1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, (not Hispanic), and 0.7% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races. Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 8% of the older population.

  • Older men were much more likely to be married than older women—70% of men, 45% of women—(Figure 2). In 2015, 34% older women were widows.

  • About 29% (13.3 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (9.2 million women, 4.1 million men).

  • Almost half of older women (46%) age 75+ live alone.

  • In 2014, about 554,579 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.

  • The population 65 and over has increased from 36.2 million in 2004 to 46.2 million in 2014 (a 28% increase) and is projected to more than double to 98 million in 2060.

  • The 85+ population is projected to triple from 6.2 million in 2014 to 14.6 million in 2040.

  • Racial and ethnic minority populations have increased from 6.5 million in 2004 (18% of the older adult population) to 10 million in 2014 (22% of older adults) and are projected to increase to 21.1 million in 2030 (28% of older adults).

  • Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people declined by 2.7% (which was not statistically significant) between 2013 and 2014. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2014 of $54,838.

  • The major sources of income as reported by older persons in 2013 were Social Security (reported by 84% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 51%), private pensions (reported by 27%), government employee pensions (reported by 14%), and earnings (reported by 28%).

  • Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 35% of beneficiaries in 2013 (21% of married couples and 46% of non-married beneficiaries).

  • Over 4.5 million older adults (10%) were below the poverty level in 2014. This poverty rate is not statistically different from the poverty rate in 2013 (10.2%). In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau also released a new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) which takes into account regional variations in the livings costs, non-cash benefits received, and non-discretionary expenditures but does not replace the official poverty measure. In 2014, the SPM shows a poverty level for older persons of 14.4% (more than 4 percentage points higher than the official rate of 10%). This increase is mainly due to including medical out-of-pocket expenses in the poverty calculations.

*Principal sources of data for the Profile are the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Profile incorporates the latest data available but not all items are updated on an annual basis.