William H. Frey photo

Elderly Demographic Profiles of U.S. States: Aging-in-Place, Migration and Immigration Impacts

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H. "Elderly Demographic Profiles of U.S. States: Aging-in-Place, Migration and Immigration Impacts." PSC Research Report No. 95-325. 3 1995.

The rise in numbers of the nations elderly population holds important implications at the state level, ranging from the allocation of social services to formulating political agendas that cater to elderly concerns. Yet many policy analysts and even demographers take a narrow view of assessing the changing demographics of state elderly populations by focusing only on the migration component. The purpose of this paper is to broaden this focus by pointing up the significance of an even more dominant source of elderly demographic change at the state level -- a process that demographers call aging-in-place. Aging-in-place refers to the graduation of the pre-elderly population into the elderly ranks by the number of people who pass their 60th birthday milestone but do not move out of the state. From a demographic standpoint, a states aging-in-place population, during a given period, is analogous to births into the elderly population. Because these newly born elderly vary in number across states and in their demographic characteristics, this aging-in-place process holds important implications for state elderly demographics.

This paper offers an overview of how 1990 state elderly populations have been affected both by migration and by the component of aging-in-place over the 1985-90 period. The analyses make plain that, during the 1985-90 period, aging-in-place contributed significantly to both the sizes and improved demographic compositions of states that had been successful in attracting working-aged in-migrants in the past. The good demographics -- high educations, lower poverty levels, and preponderance of husband- wife couples -- associated with these advancing new elderly cohorts, when coupled with their large sizes, effected positive impacts on the elderly populations of more states than did selective migration over the same period. This is especially the case in high aging-in-place states such as Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, and Texas. Moreover, in several states with large elderly out-migration flows -- such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Michigan -- the beneficial demographic effects of aging-in-place have more than compensated for these losses. Aging-in-place is also an important component of change for state black, Latino and Asian elderly populations -- although for the latter groups, migration from abroad is often a significant source or elderly gain.

Data used: 1990 U.S. census tabulations of full migration (residence 5 years ago) sample.

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