Research staff at AARP can rattle off facts about folks 50 years and older like we’re mini-Wikipedias. Although that makes us great at cocktail parties, we recently realized that we take some of this knowledge for granted, and that others might like to have quick access to the basic demographic and behavioral data that are often rattling around in our heads. To that end, we’ve started putting together a series of basic fact sheets around Americans age 50 and older. Here are our top 10 facts from the first two topics we’re covering: demographics and interests.
Top 10 Facts About Americans 50+: The Demographics & Interests Edition
- There are 108.7 million folks age 50-plus. This includes 76.4 million boomers (born 1946-64), compared with 49 million Gen Xers and 82 million millennials.
- Moreover, people 50-plus will continue to grow over the next decade to the tune of 19 million, vs. a growth of only 6 million for the 18-49 population.
- Not surprisingly, 53.5 percent of Americans age 50-plus are women, as they live longer than men.
- While this age cohort is still 75 percent white/non-Hispanic, 10 percent are African American and 9 percent are Hispanic. By 2017 the Hispanic population will match the African American 50-plus population at 12 million.
- The idea that a household consists of mom, dad, the two kids and a dog is long gone. The average number of persons in a 50-plus household is 2.35 (the kids have left … at least for the time being).
- But to take up the void, 36 percent have dogs, 24 percent have cats and another 7 percent own other pets. (I wonder if each pet gets its own bedroom, or do they have to share?)
- 92 percent of Americans age 50-plus still watch TV weekly, and their top weekly viewing cable networks are the History Channel, the Weather Channel, the Discovery Channel, ESPN and FOX News. (What? No PBS – what about Downton Abbey or Mr. Selfridge?)
- But they aren’t couch potatoes, as they eat out a lot: both sit-down restaurants (78.5 percent in the past 30 days) and fast food (84.8 percent).
- Further, 49 percent have eaten at a fast food restaurant four times or more in the past 30 days (keep those coupons coming). They most enjoy Chinese food when dining out. My favorite, Italian, came in fourth at 20 percent.
- Americans 50-plus enjoy going to professional sports events (30 percent in the past 12 months), and 20 percent have attended a live theater event.
And these are just the highlights of two fact sheets in a seven-part series. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what’s next and check out the fact sheets below:
More research from AARP:
Becky Gillan is the senior vice president of AARP Research and is focused on fostering understanding of the interests and concerns of people age 50-plus and their families. Before coming to AARP, she served as the vice president of Global Market Research & Guest Satisfaction for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In her spare time, she likes visiting her niece in Ohio, gardening and collecting American art and antiques.
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