The Graying of American Households

Written by: Jonathan Vespa and Jamie Lewis Thomas

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.

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

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).

Regional Variation in Households by Age of Householder

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.

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.

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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One Response to The Graying of American Households


    The statistics produced by Vespa and Thomas are very important for several reasons. The first is that 64% of households in the Northeast are headed by some one who is between the ages of 45 to 75 years and older The destructive effects of super storm Sandy on the northeast states caused financial ruin to hundreds of thousands of households some of whom are a few years away from retirement, and a large proportion have already retired from work.
    Do they have the financial resources to build ftom scratch and enjoy the quality of life they once had?

    How can these heads of households build their houses and themselves back up again in the autumn and winter of their lives?

    What have been the mental and psychological effects of Sandy on the 65 and above age group, many of whom are physically frail?

    The statistics are speaking very loudly and clearly to us. Some states in our nation are more vulnerable than others when measured by the relative ages of heads of households, especially, if we are going to have more future super storms with the destructive power of Sandy.

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