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12 Baby Boomer Retirement Trends

Tom Sightings

It is not news that baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, are starting to turn 65 and beginning to retire in droves. A new Census Bureau report details how quickly the baby boomers are retiring and how they are supporting themselves in retirement. Here are 12 highlights from the Census report:

1. There are just over 40 million Americans age 65 and older, and they make up 13 percent of the population. By 2030, when all the baby boomers will have passed age 65, the over-65 crowd will reach 20 percent of the population. At that time the median age of Americans will increase to 39.6 years, up from 37.2 today and a significant increase from a little under 30 in the 1960s and '70s.

2. The U.S. is not the only country with an aging population. Canada, Japan and most of Europe have older populations than the U.S.

3. About 15 percent of the white population is over 65, but only 9.4 percent of Asians, 8.8 percent of blacks and 5.5 percent of Hispanics are over 65.

4. There are 11 states with more than a million people age 65 and older, led by California with some 4.3 million. The states with the highest percentages of people age 65 and older are Florida, West Virginia, Maine and Pennsylvania. The states with the lowest proportions of senior citizens are Alaska, Utah and Texas.

5. The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old American is 17.7 years for a male and 20.3 years for a female. That represents three to four more years of life expectancy compared to what the prior generation had at the same age. And if you are now 75, you can expect to live another 11 years if you're a man and another 13 years if you're a woman.

6. The health risks associated with smoking have decreased in recent years because fewer people smoke. However, health risks associated with obesity have gone up, because a higher percentage of older adults are obese. Overweight people have an increased risk of dying, impaired mobility and are more likely to be admitted to a nursing home.

7. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death for older Americans, as they have been for decades. Alzheimer's is now the fifth leading cause of death, up from seventh position in 2000. The good news? The 65-and-over suicide rate declined from 19.7 suicides per 100,000 population in 1991 to 14.9 in 2010.

8. The average income for those between ages 65 and 69 is $37,200, but drops to a little less than $20,000 for those over age 80. The main sources of income for people over 65 are Social Security (37 percent), income from working (30 percent), pensions (19 percent) and savings and investments (11 percent). Younger retirees derive more income from working and investments, while older retirees rely more on Social Security.

9. About 65 percent of workers retire by the time they turn 65. Of those still working past that age, over a third are employed part time. People with higher education, as well as divorced women, tend to stay in the workforce the longest.

10. The poverty rate for people age 65 and older is lower than any other age group. And the percentage of people 65 an older who own their own home has remained steady since before the great recession at 81 percent, while the percentage of people under 35 owning their own home has dropped from 43 percent in 2006 to about 37 percent today.

11. The percentage of people over 65 who are married has remained fairly constant for the past half century at about 75 percent for those in their late 60s to early 70s. The number of widows has decreased, in part because more women are divorced rather than widowed, but also because men have closed the longevity gap to some degree. Asians are most likely to stay married as they get older, followed by whites, Hispanics and then blacks.

12. The population age 65 and over was the only age group to see an increase in voter participation in the 2012 presidential election compared to the 2008 presidential election. The over-65 age group had the highest percentage of people voting, at 72 percent, in the 2012 election.

Tom Sightings is a former publishing executive who was eased into early retirement in his mid-50s. He lives in the New York area and blogs at Sightings at 60, where he covers health, finance, retirement and other concerns of baby boomers who realize that somehow they have grown up.

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