The US States With the Oldest Populations

With the advancements of modern medicine, the average life expectancy and therefore the percentage of senior citizens within the US continues to rise.
With the advancements of modern medicine, the average life expectancy and therefore the percentage of senior citizens within the US continues to rise.

In 2013, there were 44.5 million elderly persons in the United States. This constitutes about 14.1 percent of America’s total population translating to one elderly person in every seven Americans. Statistics also show that come 2060 there will be approximately 98 million elderly people in the United States. By elderly we are referring to those who are aged 65 years and above.

Number of American Senior Citizens Will Continue to Rise

Interestingly enough, the age group of those aged 85 years old and above have shown the fastest growth in the United States over the last ten years. In the centuries since the country’s founding, US life expectancy at birth has more than doubled. It had increased to 47 years by the early 1900s, and further rose to 68 years by the year 1950. By 1991, life expectancy for women was at 79 years while men were at 72 years. Today, experts say that when American reach the age of 65, they can, on average, be expected to live for 17 years more. What’s more, with the technological advancements brought about by the medical field as well as the populace’s heightened awareness of healthy lifestyles and the benefits of exercise, it won’t come as a surprise that, with the spike in birth rates that brought them into the world and their longer life expectancies, the ‘Baby Boom’ generation has pushed the US elderly population to record levels as well.

California and Florida's Leading Positions

Of all the states in the United States, Florida has the highest percentage of senior citizens, followed closely by Maine, West Virginia, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Montana, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon and Arizona. However, as far as the absolute statistics are concerned, California still holds the record as having the largest actual number of elderly persons.

It’s only logical that America’s most densely populated states are also those having the greatest numbers of persons who are 65 years of age and older. Back in 1993, there were nine states who had over 9 million elderly people. California, of course, topped the list then too, with Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey behind it.

Regional Trends in Age Group Demographics

Intriguingly, the states with the biggest proportions of senior citizens were typically not the same as the states with the largest actual numbers of elderly. Exceptions to this were Pennsylvania, where 16 percent were 65 years and above, and Florida, where 19 percent were elderly. These two states were among the top 10 in terms of both total numbers and relative percentages of elderly, which were attributed to a net positive immigration of elderly greater than that seen among younger persons. Indeed, the younger generation’s migration patterns across the US have often been quite contrary to those seen in the older population.

The variations in each of the states’ age profiles are identified mainly by migration and fertility, especially since mortality rates are more or less uniform across the states. Furthermore, even though the southern states are considered alluring for people who are moving on to retirement, the Midwest and the Northeast states do have the highest percentages of elderly relative to their total populations.

Percentage Of Senior Citizens By State

RankStatePercentage of population over 65 years old
1Florida19.06 %
2Maine18.24 %
3West Virginia17.78 %
4Vermont17.02 %
5Pennsylvania16.69 %
6Montana16.62 %
7Delaware16.43 %
8Hawaii16.07 %
9Oregon15.97 %
10Arizona15.90 %
11Rhode Island15.84 %
12Iowa15.79 %
13New Hampshire15.79 %
14South Carolina15.76 %
15Arkansas15.68 %
16Ohio15.50 %
17Connecticut15.44 %
18Michigan15.44 %
19Alabama15.39 %
20Missouri15.37 %
21New Mexico15.25 %
22Wisconsin15.21 %
23South Dakota15.16 %
24Tennessee15.07 %
25Massachusetts15.06 %
26Kentucky14.80 %
27North Carolina14.69 %
28New Jersey14.68 %
29New York14.66 %
30Oklahoma14.48 %
31Nebraska14.39 %
32Idaho14.38 %
33Kansas14.38 %
34Indiana14.27 %
35Mississippi14.27 %
36Minnesota14.25 %
37North Dakota14.16 %
38Nevada14.11 %
39Washington14.06 %
40Illinois13.88 %
41Virginia13.78 %
42Maryland13.76 %
43Wyoming13.75 %
44Louisiana13.57 %
45California12.87 %
46Colorado12.69 %
47Georgia12.37 %
48Texas11.49 %
49Utah10.02 %
50Alaska9.49 %

More in Society