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The Graying of American Households

Thu Nov 15 2012
Jonathan Vespa, Jamie Lewis Thomas
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New statistics released today show that American households are increasingly older, with 39 percent headed by someone 45 to 64 years old. In addition, the percentage headed by someone at least age 75 grew from 6 percent in 1960 to 10 percent in 2012.

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But where do these older Americans live? Are there variations by region?

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Some areas of the country are aging faster than others (see Figure). The Northeast region has the smallest share of under-30 households at 11 percent. Among households headed by 30- to 44-year-olds, the West had the largest share at 28 percent, followed by the South at 27 percent. The Northeast and Midwest have the smallest shares at 25 percent (and are not statistically different from one another).

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In addition to having the smallest share of younger households, we also see more older households in the Northeast. Households headed by those 75 and older are concentrated in the Northeast, which has the largest share at 12 percent. The West has the smallest at 9 percent.

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Although the tables released today do not explore these potential explanations, several factors may influence regional variation in the age of householders. These factors include the health of the older population, the strength of the job market in particular geographic areas, and geographic concentrations of immigrant populations, which tend to be younger than the native-born. For more information on immigrant populations, see the U.S. Census Bureau’s report on the foreign-born.

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More detail about these trends and information on the living arrangements of America’s households, families, and children are available in a new series of tables released by the U.S. Census Bureau using the 2012 Current Population Survey.

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