These are the States with the Oldest Population

From Montana to Maine these states have the highest proportion of retirement-age residents.

With advances in healthcare technology, sanitation, and housing, the average life expectancy in the United States has been rising steadily for decades. Consequently, the share of individuals over the age of 65 in the United States continues to increase each year. As Baby Boomers age, this population change will grow more pronounced with the proportion of Americans over 65 projected to grow from the current 16.3 percent of the total population to about 19 percent by 2050, according to the Pew Research Center.

Living expenses are a cost that fluctuates according to age group. Car insurance premiums, for example, are influenced by driver age. Whereas young drivers may find themselves paying more on their insurance premiums, older drivers tend to get a break: average monthly car insurance premiums across all U.S. states tend to decrease with driver age. Conversely, health care and life insurance cost the country’s older population significantly more as they age. 

Not all states are home to the same proportion of age groups, yet some emerge as more desirable destinations for retirement-age individuals than others. To identify the states with the highest proportion of residents over age 65, the data science and research team at Insurify referred to data published by the U.S. Census Bureau to find the ten states with the highest percentage of residents over the age of 65. 

Insights

  • National average: Across the total U.S. population, 16.0 percent of Americans are over the age of 65, while 6.7 percent are over the age of 75. The median age in the United States is 38.2.
  • Youngest states: The three states with the most youthful populations are Utah, Alaska, and Texas. These three states are home to residents over age 65 who make up 11.1, 11.9, and 12.5 percent of the total population, respectively.  
  • Regional distributions: States with high or low percentages of residents over age 65 seem to be relatively evenly distributed throughout the United States. However, states in the Northeast have the highest average proportion of residents over age 65, at 17.8 percent, while Midwestern states have the lowest, at 14.9 percent. Southern and Western states fall in the middle with 16.1 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively. 

Methodology 

States with the oldest population were defined as those with the highest proportion of individuals aged 65 and older, which is typically considered retirement age. To determine the states with the oldest population, the data science team at Insurify referred to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, published in December 2019. Cost of living information is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ most recently published Regional Price Parities data.

States with the Oldest Populations in the United States

10. South Carolina

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 17.7 
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 6.8
  • Median age: 39.7
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Beaufort County (27.8%)

According to the most recent Census Bureau data, South Carolina is the state with the tenth-highest proportion of retirement-age residents in the United States. The Palmetto State has increasingly become a desirable destination for retirees, with its year-round natural beauty and relatively mild winters. For those living off retirement savings, a dollar also goes much further in this state than it does in many others. In fact, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the cost of living in South Carolina is quite low, 9.6 percent lower than the national average.

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9. New Hampshire

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 20.5
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 7.3
  • Median age: 43.1
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Grafton County (20.80%)

With its long winters and heavy snowfall, New Hampshire may not strike many as the ideal location for those above age 65. Yet, New Hampshire is one of the most tax-friendly states in the U.S. The Granite State is one of the few U.S. states with no sales tax, and residents pay neither estate tax nor inheritance tax. Health care for retirement-age residents in New Hampshire is also a plus; The Granite State ranks fifth in the nation for senior health, according to the United Health Foundation.

8. Pennsylvania

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 18.2
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 8.0
  • Median age: 40.8
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Westmoreland County (22.7%)

With scenic state parks, bustling cities and retiree-friendly tax laws, it’s not hard to see why Pennsylvania is home to one of the highest percentages of residents over the age of 65. Pennsylvania is quite tax-friendly to retirement-age residents, as it is one of the few U.S. states that do not tax retirement income, whether public or private pensions or Social Security. With over twenty retirement communities, Westmoreland County has the highest proportion of residents over age 65 in the state.

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7. Hawaii

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 18.4
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 7.9
  • Median age: 39.3
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Hawaii County: (1.20%)

Hawaii is one of America’s most coveted retirement destinations, and we weren’t surprised to find it ranking among the top 10 this year. With year-round fantastic weather, warm water, and miles of sandy beaches, Hawaii is a popular state for retirees… especially the wealthy, as this state has the highest cost of living in the country, at 18.5 percent above the national average.

6. Delaware

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 18.7
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 7.5
  • Median age: 41.1
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Sussex County (27.8%) 

Similar to many of the most popular states among Americans over age 65, Delaware is another mild-weathered and tax-friendly state for retirees. Like New Hampshire, The Diamond State does not levy an estate tax, inheritance tax, or sales tax. Sussex County in Delaware has the highest proportion of residents over age 65. It boasts nearly a dozen retirement communities, all located within miles of each other.

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5. Montana

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 18.8
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 7.5
  • Median age: 40.1
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Flathead County (19.50%) 

Montana ranks among the top five states this year with the highest share of residents over age 65. Despite a reputation for isolation, Montana’s rugged beauty and tranquility, in addition to its retirement-friendly tax policies, are more than enough persuasion for some to retire to this state. In Montana, the income tax is capped below 10 percent, meaning that pensioners and Social Security recipients pay far lower taxes than many of their counterparts in other states. In addition, Montana does not collect estate or inheritance tax.  

4. Vermont

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 19.8
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 7.7
  • Median age: 43.1
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: N/A (county-specific data unavailable) 

Another northeastern state to make the rankings this year, Vermont has the fourth-highest proportion of residents over 65 in the nation. It may be surprising to find Vermont among the top ten states in this ranking, given its long, snowy winters, higher-than-average cost of living, and Social Security income tax. Yet, for some, other factors such as Vermont’s quaint small towns and wealth of outdoor activities outweigh such drawbacks.

3. West Virginia

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 20.0
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 8.1
  • Median age: 42.8
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Raleigh County and Kanawha County (both 20.90%) 

West Virginia’s mild weather, abundant land, retiree-friendly taxes, and below-average cost of living contribute to this state’s appeal. The Mountain State collects neither estate or inheritance tax, and the cost of living is quite low, 13.0 percent below the national average. Although Kanawha County has nearly two dozen retirement communities,  West Virginia’s older population remains relatively evenly spread across all of its counties.

2. Florida

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 20.5
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 9.2
  • Median age: 42.2
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Sumter County: (56.8%) 

A longtime top retirement destination, Florida is the state with the second-highest proportion of retirement-age residents in the nation. The Sunshine State remains the “go-to” location for many living in the Northeast, from New York to Connecticut to New Jersey. It’s not hard to see why Florida remains popular among Americans over the age of 65, given its warm weather, walkable cities, and lack of estate and inheritance taxes. With nearly one in ten residents over the age of 75, Florida is also the state with the highest percentage of residents within this age bracket. A number of counties in this state, including Sumter County, Charlotte County, and Citrus County, are home to over 35 percent of residents over the age of 65. 

1. Maine

  • Percentage of population over age 65: 20.6
  • Percentage of population over age 75: 8.4
  • Median age: 45.1
  • County with the highest percentage of population over age 65: Aroostook County (24.10%) 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maine ranks first in the nation for the highest proportion of residents over the age of 65. This statistic may come as a surprise to some, given Maine’s harsh winters and reputation for remote, isolated communities. Yet, with its flourishing art and food scenes and countless opportunities for outdoor recreation, this state has become increasingly popular among retirement-age Americans seeking a less traditional retirement lifestyle. Unlike Florida’s older populations, which are concentrated within a small handful of counties, Maine’s older populations are integrated into each county overall.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.

Updated May 11, 2020

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 2.5 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.