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Aging into the 21st Century


This report discusses issues related to the size and characteristics of the future elderly population in this country. This report uses the most current U.S. Bureau of the Census population, marital status, and household projections, as well as other current statistics to provide an informative context for evaluating the implications of the growth of our older population. In conjunction with data on the labor force, income, education, and living arrangements, especially living alone, the projections and statistics help shed light on the future makeup of our aging population.

Rather than creating a new set of projections (which was not feasible for this project), or adopting a single set of projections previously made by others, we selected individual series of projections relating to the elderly from a variety of sources, redesigned them, and assembled them into the tables in this report. Since the data are drawn from different sources, however, the base dates of the projections and the terminal dates may differ, and the assumptions upon which the projections are based may not be consistent. In some cases, data on the same or overlapping areas from different sources are presented to provide additional detail or suggest the range of uncertainty. The data are generally as current as or more current than those available in other publications. We consulted a wide variety of persons involved in the preparation of demographic data and in some instances obtained access to information prior to its publication. After examination of this document and of the sources listed, the reader should have a clear impression as to how the "look" of the elderly will change in the next several decades. The report presents currently available national data in tabular form. Data for subnational areas will be considered in a future report. The time span varies from 5 to 55 years, depending on the topic and the availability of data.

We wish to thank several persons in the Federal Government who provided documents, data, and information that aided greatly in the completion of this report. They are Gregory Spencer, Kevin Deardorff, and Nancy White of the U.S. Bureau of the Census; Felicitie Bell of the Actuary's Office of the Social Security Administration; Howard Fullerton of the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Joan Van Nostrand of the National Center for Health Statistics; Douglas Fox of the Bureau of Economic Analysis; and Kathleen A. Sorensen of the National Center of Veteran Analysis and Statistics. We also wish to thank Lisa Maria B. Alecxih of Lewin/ICF for providing the set of unpublished projections relating to the elderly prepared by her company.

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Last Modified: 12/31/1600