Nearly 34 million Americans - one in eight - have reached or passed their 65th birthday, a private research group said Wednesday.
By the middle of the 21st century, roughly one in five, or 80 million people, will be 65 or older, according to a report released by the Population Reference Bureau Inc.
The number of elderly Americans quadrupled during the first half of this century, the group said.
“The pace of growth is slower now as the relatively small number of people born during the 1930s Great Depression moves into old age,” the report said. “But the process will accelerate again in about 15 years when the large baby-boom generation starts reaching the 65-year mark.”
Older people play 32 percent of all rounds of golf, take 72 percent of all recreational vehicle trips and make up 60 percent of all vacation cruise passengers, according to the report.
Seventy-eight percent said they were registered to vote for the 1992 presidential election, the highest rate of any age group. One in five voters in that election was 65 or older.
The report said Florida has the highest percentage of elderly, with 18.4 percent; followed by Pennsylvania, 15.9 percent; Rhode Island, 15.5 percent; and Iowa and West Virginia, each with 15.4 percent.
Alaska had the smallest share, with 4.6 percent of its population 65 or older.
The number of Americans age 100 or older more than tripled to 52,000 from 1980 to 1995, the report said. That number may reach 1 million by the middle of the 21st century.