The Older Population Is Changing
The older population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. By 2040, non-Hispanic whites will make up two-thirds of the population ages 65 and older, down from about seven-eighths in 1980.
Widowhood rates among women ages 65 and older will decline dramatically—from around 50 percent in 1980 to 30 percent in 2040—mostly the result of longer life spans of their spouses. During the same period, more older women will be divorced and more will have never married. Thus, the share of older women who are married will not change much over the next 30 years. Marital status has important implications for future retirement incomes because single older women typically have lower retirement incomes than married women.
Between 2000 and 2040, the share of older men who are married will fall from 75 to 64 percent, as the shares never married and divorced increase.
Educational attainment among older Americans will increase in coming decades. By 2040, 88 percent of Americans ages 65 and older will have completed high school, up from 70 percent in 2000. The share with four-year college degrees will more than double between 2000 and 2040.