Europe Single Largest Source of Older Foreign-Born

Among the nation’s 3.1 million foreign-born people age 65 and over in 2000, 39 percent came from Europe, 31 percent from Latin America and 22 percent from Asia, according to a report released today by the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau.

“Historically, Europe has been the primary source of immigration to this country, and the European-born was the single largest group among the older foreign-born population in 2000,” said Wan He, author of The Older

Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000.

“Reflecting immigration trends of recent decades, people from Latin America and Asia combined now represent the majority of the foreign-born of all ages and about half the older foreign-born. This likely will modify the characteristics of the older foreign-born population as time passes.”

“These types of analyses are very important,” said Georgeanne E. Patmios, acting chief of the Population and Social Processes Branch at the NIA’s Behavioral and Social Research Program. “They will help policymakers, scientists and community leaders better address the health, economic and social support needs of older Americans, who will increasingly differ by racial, ethnic and cultural background.”

Other highlights of the report:

— The 65-and-older foreign-born population (3.1 million) represented a ratio of 1-in-10 of the entire foreign-born population (28.4 million) in 2000. In 1960, older people comprised about 3-in-10 of the foreign-born.

— While 39 percent of the older foreign-born began life in Europe, only 15 percent of the foreign-born of all ages were born in Europe. In contrast, people from Latin America accounted for 31 percent of the older foreign-born but 51 percent of the entire foreign-born population.

— Foreign-born people comprised 45 percent of the 65-and-over population who lacked health insurance.