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Metropolitan Distribution of the U.S. Elderly: 1960-70, 1970-80, 1980-90

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H. "Metropolitan Distribution of the U.S. Elderly: 1960-70, 1970-80, 1980-90." PSC Research Report No. 92-246. 7 1992.

This article examines the extent to which elderly and nonelderly distribution patterns are becoming less alike. It also explores their implications for differential "population aging" across regions and metropolitan areas and addresses the following three questions:

  1. What are the recent patterns of growth and distribution of the elderly population across regions and metropolitan areas?

  2. Have nonelderly population shifts led to a greater divergence in elderly-nonelderly distribution since the 1970s?

  3. What do these redistribution processes imply for geographic differences in population aging?

These questions are examined through analyses of decennial census trends. The 1980-90 distribution shifts for the elderly and nonelderly populations are assessed in light of trends observed over the 1960-70 and 1970-80 decades. In all cases, the analyses employ constant metropolitan area boundaries that are consistent with the definitions of the Office of Management and Budget as of June 30, 1990. The elderly population is defined as persons aged 65 and older.

Findings indicate that both elderly and nonelderly redistributions across U.S. regions and metropolitan areas have taken different paths over the past thirty years. As the elderly population has gained access to pensions and greater private savings, its members have increasingly tended to relocate in "retirement communities" and other resort and recreation areas as an alternative to "aging-in-place." At the same time, the nonelderly population is much more responsive to the "pushes" and "pulls" of the economy than is the elderly population.

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