Databook on the Elderly: A Statistical Portrait - Executive Summary


Michele Adler, Suzanne Kitchen, and Albert Irion

June 1987

This report was prepared under task order contract #HHS-100-84-0036 between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Macro Systems, Inc. For additional information about the study, you may visit the HHS Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy (DALTCP) home page at or contact the office at HHS/ASPE/DALTCP, Room 424E, H.H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201. The e-mail address is:

The Databook on the Elderly: A Statistical Portrait, provides an indepth look at basic characteristics of elderly Americans. The report (also available on diskettes) is designed to present the most recent information on the elderly in a clear, summary fashion for easy use by policymakers. The information was obtained from over a hundred sources within the Federal government and the private sector.

This report looks at the characteristics of the 28 million elderly--demographic, health, economic--how they have changed, what changes are expected for the future, and how these changes affect Federal programs, the economy, and society as a whole. Several themes appear: the impact of an aging society now and in the future, the heterogeneity of the elderly themselves, and the interdependence of young and old generations.

The Databook on the Elderly is divided into five chapters:

  • Demographic Profile of the Elderly (including population trends, race and ethnicity, marital status and living arrangements, mobility, voting, and crime).

  • Health of the Elderly (including life expectancy, health status, disability, use of health care services, cost of care, source of payment, role of Medicare and Medicaid, and long-term care).

  • Economic Well-Being of the Elderly (including retirement, income, poverty, assets, net worth, and pensions).

  • Federal Programs Targeted on the Elderly (overall share of the Federal budget attributed to the elderly as well as detailed descriptions of major programs--i.e. Social security, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans' programs.

  • International Comparisons (global population trends, differences between developing and developed countries, and international comparisons in Social Security, retirement, pensions, and long-term care).