Geographical Location

As illustrated in Figures 9-1 and 9-2, the geographical distribution of the adult population of the United States varies with chronological age. The most populated and fastest-growing region is the South, and the smallest population is found in the Northeast. Of course, the population of a given geographical area is related to its area, so the most populated place is not necessarily the most densely populated. Of the 50 states, California has the largest population, with Texas second, and New York third. California and Texas, along with Florida, are the most rapidly growing states in terms of population and are projected to retain their positions well into the next century. Due largely to the migration of older adults from New York, Canada, and other northern climes, Florida is fourth in the nation in overall population but second in the number of older adults. Florida gains 7 thousand new human residents every day, much larger than the number of new alligators! Arizona, California, and Texas also attract sizable numbers of retirees and other older adults. Migration to the Sunbelt has declined somewhat in recent years, but the number of people in the South and West is growing at a more rapid rate than in other areas of the country and is expected to continue doing so for the next 25 years or so (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995).

In 1995, the percentage of the population living in metropolitan areas 1 varied only slightly with chronological age, decreasing from a high of 82% of the 25-34year age group to a low of 74% of the over-85 age group. Ninety-two

1A geographical region in the United States is defined as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) if it includes a city of at least 50,000 population or a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area of at least 50,000, with a total metropolitan population of at least 100,000 (75,000 in New England) (Saluter, 1996).

Region ■ Northeast

H Midwest

OSouth

Lowest

75-84

Figure 9-1 U.S. population by age and geographical region. (Prepared from published data in Saluter, 1996.)

percent of Hispanics, 86% of blacks, and 77% of non-Hispanic whites lived in metropolitan areas (Saluter, 1996). Among minority groups, larger percentages of blacks and Hispanics live in the South, whereas larger percentages of Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Eskimos, and Aleuts live in the West. Of these, the Asian/Pacific Islander group is projected to be the fastest growing of all minority groups during the next quarter of a century. The American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut populations will reportedly be second. The black population is growing at the most rapid rate in all regions of the United States except the West, where the Hispanic population is growing faster than any other minority. With respect to age, it is anticipated that the proportion of young adults in the population will decline and the proportion of older adults will increase in the next two or three decades (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995).

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