Greater Proportion of Older Men, Women Working, According to Updated Federal Report

Share this Article


As the baby boom generation anticipates retirement, a growing proportion of older Americans are in fact remaining in the workforce. Labor force participation rates for older women have increased significantly since the mid-1980s, and for older men, since the mid-1990s, according to an updated report from the government’s Federal Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. The labor force statistics are among several updated facts and figures in the Forum’s databook series on aging.

The Forum is comprised of 13 federal departments and agencies which collect, provide, and use data on aging. It produces periodic chartbooks with key statistical indicators about older Americans, presenting data on the overall status of the U.S. population age 65 and over and monitoring changes in these indicators over time. The report is designed to serve policymakers, the media, and the public with an interest in information on the well-being of older Americans.

These newest entries are part of Older Americans Update 2006: Key Indicators of Well-Being and provide updated information on a variety of topics, including labor force participation, leading causes of death, health care use, and other important areas.

The workforce update notes that participation rates for men 65 to 69 increased from 25 percent in 1993 to 34 percent in 2005, and for women 65 to 69, the rates increased from 14 percent in 1985 to 24 percent in 2005. There has been a similar increase in labor force participation rates for women age 62 to 64 over the same period (from 28 percent in 1987 to 40 percent in 2005). For men age 62 to 64, participation rates leveled off in the 1980s after falling during the 1960s and 1970s. Then in the mid-1990s, their participation rates began to rise from 45 percent in 1995 to 53 percent in 2005.

The trend also applies to men and women age 70 and over. Here, too, labor force participation rates have increased markedly for at least a decade and the rise is continuing. Among men 70 and over, 14 percent were in the labor force in 2005, up from 10 percent in 1993. Among women 70 and over, participation rates increased from 4 percent in 1987 to 7 percent in 2005.

Other selected highlights from Older Americans Update 2006 include:

Alzheimer’s disease surpasses diabetes and influenza and pneumonia as a cause of death for people age 65 and over. [Indicator 14: Mortality]

  • In 2003, age adjusted death rates for Alzheimer’s disease (167.7 deaths per 100,000 people) surpassed death rates for diabetes mellitus (150.7 deaths per 100,000) and influenza and pneumonia (154.8 deaths per 100,000). Some of this increase has resulted from better reporting of Alzheimer’s disease on death certificates.
  • The leading causes of death for people age 65 and over in 2003 are ranked as follows: 1) diseases of heart, 2) malignant neoplasms, 3) cerebrovascular diseases, 4) chronic lower respiratory diseases, 5) Alzheimer’s disease, 6) influenza and pneumonia, and 7) diabetes mellitus.

Average prescription drug costs more than triple in the past decade for older Americans. [Indicator 30: Prescription Drugs]

  • Over the past decade, average prescription drug costs for noninstitutionalized Medicare enrollees age 65 and over have more than tripled from $542 in 1992 to $1,740 in 2002 (in 2002 dollars). Average out-of-pocket costs, the amount that older people have paid directly, increased over this period from $326 to $686 (in 2002 dollars).
  • In 2002, private insurance covered approximately 36 percent of prescription drug costs, public programs covered 24 percent, and 39 percent of the costs were paid out-of-pocket.

Members of the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics (Forum)

Established in 1986 the Forum’s goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of Federal data on aging. The 13 agencies that comprise the Forum are: Administration on Aging, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Health Statistics, National Institute on Aging, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (HHS), Office of Management and Budget, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Social Security Administration.

To Access the Update or Order Printed Copies of Older Americans 2006:

Older Americans Update 2006: Key Indicators of Well-Being, the latest report in the key indicator series produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, is now available online at and in limited quantities in print. Supporting data for each indicator, including complete tables, PowerPoint slides, and data source descriptions, can be found on the Forum’s Web site. Single printed copies of Older Americans Update 2006: Key Indicators of Well-Being are available at no charge through the National Center for Health Statistics while supplies last. Requests may be made by calling 1-866-441-NCHS (6247) or by sending an e-mail to: [email protected]. For multiple print copies, contact Forum Staff Director Kristen Robinson at (301) 458-4460 or send an e-mail request to [email protected].

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply