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Americans living longer, enjoying greater health and prosperity, but important disparities remain
Date:3/27/2008

overty. However, major inequalities continue to exist for older blacks and for people without high school diplomas, who report smaller economic gains and fewer financial resources.

  • Income generally rose between 1974 and 2006. The proportion of older people with incomes below the poverty line went from 15 percent to 9 percent; those categorized with low income dropped from 35 percent to 26 percent; those with high incomes increased from 18 percent to 29 percent.
  • Median net worth for households headed by whites age 65 and older was six times that of older black households, although the gap has slightly narrowed since 2003.
  • More older people, especially women, continued to work past age 55.

Health Status Americans longevity continues to increase, although life expectancy at age 65 in the United States is lower than that of other industrialized countries. While older people experience a variety of chronic health conditions that often accompany aging, the rate of functional limitations among people age 65 and older has declined in recent years.

  • Life expectancy in the U.S. is lower than that of many high-income countries, such as Canada, France, Sweden and Japan. For example, in 2003, women age 65 in Japan could expect to live 3.2 years more on average than women in the United States, with the difference among men at 1.2 years. In the early 1980s, U.S. women age 65 had one of the highest average life expectancies in the world, but over the next two decades, the life expectancies of older women in many countries surpassed that of women in the United States.
  • The prevalence of certain conditions differs by sex and by race and ethnicity. Women reported higher levels of arthritis than men did, while men reported higher levels of heart disease and cancer. Non-Hispanic blacks reported higher levels of hypertension and diabetes than did non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics reported higher
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Contact: Vicky Cahan
nianews3@mail.nih.gov
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
Source:Eurekalert

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