Population Size and Trends

Age 65 and Older

In 2006, Americans age 65 and over who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino comprise 6.4% of all older Americans. There were an estimated 2.4 million older adults in this category in 2006 (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates and Projections).

By 2050, the Hispanic population is projected to comprise 18% of the older population. By 2028, the Hispanic population aged 65 and older is expected to be the largest racial/ethnic minority in this age group. The older Hispanic/Latino population is expected to grow more quickly than other ethnic minority groups from over 2 million in 2005 to 15 million in 2050, so by 2028, it is projected that the 65 and older population will surpass the non-Hispanic Black population in that age category.

Table 1 and Figure 1 compare the percentage of each of the total ethnic populations that are 65 and over. Cuban older adults represent the oldest cohort when compared to the other subgroups and make up a higher percentage of elderly over 65 compared to the overall elder population.

Age 85 and Older

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the population age 85 and older is expected to increase from 5.3 million in 2006 to almost 21 million in 2050. The Hispanic/Latino population 80 and older is expected to increase from 3% in 1990 to 14% in 2050.  The Parent Support Ratio (PSR) represents the number of persons 80 years and over per 100 persons aged 50-64 years of a specific racial/ethnic group. By mid-century, the PSR for the Hispanic population is expected to triple from 11.3 to 36.4 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993).

Centenarians

The overall numbers of US Centenarians are expected to rise significantly between now and 2050.  A 2003 census projection it is expected that the centenarians will comprise of 1.1 million in 2050. This projection is an increase of an earlier projection made of 834,000. (Gerontological Research Group, 2008)

Almost two decades ago the population of Hispanic/Latino elders over the age of 100—or the centenarians—comprised less than 1% of the total centenarians of all races and ethnic groups. The percent of Hispanic/Latino centenarians is expected to significantly increase by the year 2050 to over 19%. Table 2 illustrates the growth of this population compared to other ethnic/racial groups. This aging cohort may have significant disabilities requiring more care, and family caregivers may require more support and resources (Angel & Whitfield, 2007).

Age Compared to other Ethnic Groups

The overall Hispanic/Latino population is relatively young compared to other ethnic groups with the exception of the Cuban population. The median age of the various Hispanic/Latino groups reflect the differences in fertility rates and immigration patterns. The median age of Mexican Americans is 23.6 followed by Puerto Ricans with a median age of 26.8 and Central/South Americans with 28.4. Cubans have the highest median age, 41.1. A significant demographic trend is that the proportion of the Mexican American population under the age of 18 is significantly larger than all other Hispanic/Latino ethnic groups, and also larger than non-Hispanic whites (Angel & Whitfield, 2007; Ramirez, 2004; Villa, Cuellar, Gamel, Yeo, 1993).  This demographic trend has future implications for caregiving dependency ratios.