EMBARGOED BY U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
Wednesday, June 16, 1999
Contact: Vicky Cahan
New Census Report Shows Exponential Growth
in Number of Centenarians
- Four out of every five centenarians are women. Despite the dramatic slowing of death rates at the oldest ages over the past few decades, gains for men have been smaller and men still lag behind women in attaining age 100. Projections suggest that these differences will continue into the middle of the 21st century.
- The centenarian population, mostly non-Hispanic white today, will become significantly more diverse in the coming years. Approximately 78 percent of today's centenarians are white, a proportion expected to decrease to about 55 percent by 2050. The percentage of the older Black population is expected to remain the same at about 13 percent, with the proportion of Hispanics rising from 5.6 percent to about 20 percent and Asian and Pacific Islanders expected to grow from about 3 percent to nearly 11 percent.
- Only about half of the centenarians counted in 1990 had completed some high school or more. This compares with four out of five people aged 65 through 69 in 1990 with at least some high school. The impact of educational attainment, a major determinant of health status, will be closely observed as the younger group, or cohort, moves toward very advanced age.
- The nation's centenarians are concentrated on both U.S. coasts, with about 10 percent of the total number living in California and 8 percent making their homes in New York. A state-by-state analysis shows that, proportionally, Iowa has the highest percentage of centenarians among its own population, followed by South Dakota. (This description reflects a June 16, 1999, Census revision to the state-by-state section of the report.)
- Internationally, the U.S. may have the highest proportion of centenarians among people age 85 and older, although this comparison can only be made among countries with relatively good quality data. There are approximately 120 centenarians per 10,000 people age 85 and older in the U.S.. This finding is in line with research indicating that life expectancy after 80 is higher in the U.S. than in a number of other developed countries.
Data from the report, Centenarians in the United States, P23-199, will be available at http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/p60199/pdf, the Census website. It will be posted June 16.
The report is the latest in a series of joint demographic projects by the Census Bureau and the NIA to characterize the elderly population and examine its dynamic growth in the past and as projected into the next century. It was prepared by Victoria A. Velkoff, who heads the Aging Studies Branch at the Census Bureau.
Specifically on the very elderly, the NIA has supported other research projects, including a Massachusetts study of centenarians by Thomas Perls, M.D., M.P.H., of Harvard University and a study of centenarians in Europe and China by James Vaupel, Ph.D., of Duke University and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.