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Oldest Baby Boomers Turn 60!

In 2006, the oldest of the baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, will turn 60 years old. Among the Americans celebrating their 60th will be our two most recent presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Other well-known celebrities reaching this milestone include Cher, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton. To commemorate this occasion, the Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts relating to, perhaps, our most celebrated generation.

78.2 million
Estimated number of baby boomers, as of July 1, 2005.

Number of people turning 60 each day in 2006, according to projections. That amounts to 330 every hour.

James & Mary
The most popular baby names for boys and girls, respectively, in 1946. Today, the names Jacob and Emily lead the list; James ranks 17th among boys and Mary is 63rd among girls.
(Source: Social Security Administration, at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html)

Percentage of women baby boomers in 2005.

9.1 million
Estimated number of baby boomers in 2004 who were black. Also, 8.0 million boomers were Hispanic (of any race).

Dramatic Changes in U.S. Aging
Highlighted in New Census, NIH Report

Impact of Baby Boomers Anticipated

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, 8 Mb], 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 U.S. population age 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost 1-out-of-5 Americans — some 72 million people — will be 65 years or older. The age group 85 and older is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.
  • The health of older Americans is improving. Still, many are disabled and suffer from chronic conditions. The proportion with a disability fell significantly from 26.2 percent in 1982 to 19.7 percent in 1999. But 14 million people age 65 and older reported some level of disability in Census 2000, mostly linked to a high prevalence of chronic conditions such as heart disease or arthritis.
  • The financial circumstances of older people have improved dramatically, although there are wide variations in income and wealth. The proportion of people aged 65 and older in poverty decreased from 35 percent in 1959 to 10 percent in 2003, mostly attributed to the support of Social Security. In 2000, the poorest fifth of senior households had a net worth of $3,500 ($44,346 including home equity) and the wealthiest had $328,432 ($449,800 including home equity).
  • Florida (17.6 percent), Pennsylvania (15.6 percent) and West Virginia (15.3 percent) are the “oldest” states, with the highest percentages of people age 65 and older. Charlotte County, Fla., (34.7 percent) has the highest concentration of older residents and McIntosh County, N.D., (34.2 percent) ranks second.
  • Higher levels of education, which are linked to better health, higher income, more wealth and a higher standard of living in retirement, will continue to increase among people 65 and older. The proportion of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree grew five-fold from 1950 to 2003, from 3.4 percent to 17.4 percent; and by 2030, more than one-fourth of the older population is expected to have an undergraduate degree. The percentage completing high school quadrupled from 1950 to 2003, from 17 percent to 71.5 percent.
  • As the United States as a whole grows more diverse, so does the population age 65 and older. In 2003, older Americans were 83 percent non-Hispanic white, 8 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. By 2030, an estimated 72 percent of older Americans will be non-Hispanic white, 11 percent Hispanic, 10 percent black and 5 percent Asian.



Modified: 07/13/2006