Senior Statistics of California

Last Updated on January 27, 2024 by Rachel


California, the Golden State, is home to a diverse population, including a substantial number of seniors aged 65 and over. These seniors are a vital part of the state’s social fabric, contributing to its cultural richness and economic activity. In this article, we delve into the American Community Survey 2022 Census data to explore the demographics and characteristics of seniors in California while making comparisons to the national data for seniors in the United States.

Population (Sex and Age, Race)

In California, there is a total population of 6,158,902 seniors aged 65 and over, contributing to the state’s rich demographic tapestry. This senior population consists of 44.8% males and 55.2% females, with a median age of 73.4 years. This demographic distribution showcases the diverse composition of the state’s senior population.

When comparing these figures to national data, we find that while California and the United States have similar percentages of male and female seniors, California has a more racially diverse senior population with a higher percentage of Asian seniors (16.8% compared to 4.8% nationally) and a larger Hispanic or Latino population (21.9% compared to 9.1% nationally).

Relationship, Households by Type, and Marital Status

The relationships among seniors in California are also diverse and robust. Among seniors in the state, 82.3% are householders or spouses, reflecting strong family ties. Furthermore, 8.6% are parents, 5.6% are other relatives, and 3.5% are nonrelatives. This diverse array of relationships reflects the rich social connections within the state’s senior population.

In terms of household type, 57.2% of senior households in California are family households, similar to the national average of 54.7%. Within family households, 43.8% are married-couple families, while 10.2% are female householder families. Nonfamily households make up 42.8% of senior households, with 38.4% consisting of seniors living alone.

Nationally, while household relationships among seniors are quite similar, California has a slightly higher percentage of parents among its senior population (8.6% compared to 4.5% nationally). Additionally, California has a slightly lower percentage of seniors living alone (38.4% compared to 42.0% nationally).

Marital Status

Among the senior population aged 15 and over in California, 54.8% are currently married, except for those separated. Furthermore, 20.0% are widowed, 15.3% are divorced, 1.6% are separated, and 8.3% have never been married.

California’s senior population displays marital status percentages that are close to the national averages. Nationally, 56.1% of seniors are currently married (except separated), and 20.9% are widowed, while California reports 54.8% and 20.0%, respectively.

Educational Attainment

Education plays a significant role in shaping the lives of seniors in California. Among those aged 65 and over, 33.7% have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, reflecting a commitment to lifelong learning. Additionally, 28.2% have completed some college or earned an associate’s degree, 19.9% have graduated from high school, received a GED, or pursued alternative education, while 18.2% have less than a high school education.

California’s senior population has a higher percentage of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the national data (33.7% compared to 30.8% nationally). However, the state also has a larger percentage of seniors with less than a high school education (18.2% compared to 12.2% nationally).

Responsibility for Grandchildren Under 18 Years

Interactions across generations are essential in California’s senior population. Among those aged 30 and over, 7.9% live with grandchildren under 18 years. This demonstrates the significant role seniors play in caregiving and support for younger family members.

In this aspect, California’s senior population has a higher percentage of seniors living with grandchildren under 18 years compared to the national data (7.9% compared to 4.7% nationally).

Veteran Status

In California, the civilian population aged 18 and over includes 10.7% who are civilian veterans, reflecting a strong connection to military service within the state’s senior community.

Comparatively, California has a lower percentage of civilian veterans in its senior population than the national data, which shows 13.8% of seniors as civilian veterans.

Disability Status

Among the civilian noninstitutionalized population in California, 33.4% of seniors have some form of disability, while 66.6% report no disability, highlighting the resilience and adaptability of many older adults in the state.

These disability statistics are similar to the national data, where 33.1% of seniors report having a disability and 66.9% report no disability.

Residence 1 Year Ago

California’s senior population is relatively stable, with 94.6% of seniors residing in the same house as they did one year ago. A small percentage, 5.0%, have moved to a different house in the United States, with 3.1% staying within the same county, and 1.8% relocating to a different county.

This data aligns closely with the national statistics, where 94.1% of seniors in the United States reside in the same house as the previous year, with similar percentages for those who moved within the country.

Place of Birth, Nativity and Citizenship Status, and Year of Entry

California’s senior population comprises 3,988,145 native-born individuals and 2,170,757 foreign-born individuals. Among foreign-born seniors, 6.9% entered the U.S. in 2010 or later, 7.9% between 2000 and 2009, and 85.2% before 2000. Additionally, 77.6% of foreign-born seniors have become naturalized U.S. citizens, while 22.4% are not U.S. citizens.

Compared to the United States’ national data, California’s senior population has a higher percentage of foreign-born individuals (35.2% compared to 14.1% nationally). The state also has a larger percentage of foreign-born seniors who entered before 2000 (85.2% compared to 82.6% nationally) and a higher percentage of naturalized U.S. citizens (77.6% compared to 77.6% nationally).

Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English

In California, among the population aged 5 and over, 63.1% speak English only, while 36.9% speak a language other than English, with 23.6% reporting that they speak English less than “very well.”

This linguistic diversity is notable in California’s senior population, as it contrasts with the national data, where 84.5% of seniors speak English only, and only 15.5% speak a language other than English, with 8.7% reporting that they speak English less than “very well.” This highlights the multicultural and multilingual nature of California’s senior community.

Employment Status

Among California’s civilian population aged 16 and over, 19.3% are in the labor force, with 18.6% employed and 0.8% unemployed. This reflects the continued participation of seniors in the state’s workforce, contributing their skills and experience to various industries.

In comparison to the national data, California’s senior population has a slightly higher employment rate (18.6% compared to 18.1% nationally) and a slightly higher unemployment rate (0.8% compared to 0.6% nationally). These figures indicate the state’s commitment to active senior participation in the labor force.

Income in the Past 12 Months (In 2022 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars)

In California, among senior households, 43.0% report earnings, with a mean income of $92,681. Additionally, 82.5% of senior households receive Social Security income, with a mean income of $24,005. Other sources of income include Supplemental Security Income, cash public assistance income, and retirement income, which are received by 9.7%, 3.0%, and 53.3% of senior households, respectively.

When comparing these income statistics to the national data, California’s senior population shows a higher mean income from earnings ($92,681 compared to $73,402 nationally) and slightly higher mean income from Social Security ($24,005 compared to $24,325 nationally). The state also reports higher percentages of seniors receiving Supplemental Security Income, cash public assistance income, and retirement income.

Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months

Of the population for whom poverty status is determined in California, 11.8% of seniors are below 100 percent of the poverty level, 8.4% are at 100 to 149 percent of the poverty level, and 79.9% are at or above 150 percent of the poverty level. These figures reflect the financial well-being of the majority of seniors in the state.

Comparatively, California’s senior population displays a similar poverty status distribution to the national data, where 10.9% are below 100 percent of the poverty level, 8.5% are at 100 to 149 percent of the poverty level, and 80.6% are at or above 150 percent of the poverty level.

Housing Tenure: Owner-Occupied and Renter-Occupied Housing Units

In California, 73.2% of senior-occupied housing units are owner-occupied, and 26.8% are renter-occupied. The average household size for owner-occupied units is 2.18, while for renter-occupied units, it is 1.78. This housing distribution highlights the varied living arrangements of seniors in the state.

In comparison to the national data, California has a lower percentage of owner-occupied housing units (73.2% compared to 78.4% nationally) and a slightly higher percentage of renter-occupied units (26.8% compared to 21.6% nationally). These figures reflect the diversity of housing choices for seniors in the state.

Selected Characteristics: No Telephone Service and Occupants per Room

Only 1.1% of California’s senior-occupied housing units report no telephone service available, reflecting the widespread connectivity and communication options in the state. Additionally, 2.5% of housing units have 1.01 or more occupants per room, indicating generally comfortable living arrangements for seniors.

These statistics are in line with the national data, which also shows limited instances of no telephone service and a low percentage of occupants per room in senior-occupied housing units.

Gross Rent as a Percentage of Household Income in the Past 12 Months

Among senior-occupied housing units in California, 38.2% pay less than 30 percent of their household income as gross rent, while 61.8% pay 30 percent or more. The median gross rent in the state is $1,381.


California’s senior population is both diverse and dynamic, contributing significantly to the state’s social, economic, and cultural life. The state’s seniors exhibit a strong presence in the workforce, a commitment to education, and a rich tapestry of relationships and living arrangements.

While California’s senior population shares similarities with national data in several aspects, such as marital status and poverty status, it also exhibits distinctions, including higher educational attainment, linguistic diversity, and greater participation in the labor force. These unique features reflect the state’s multicultural and multilingual senior community, its commitment to lifelong learning, and the active involvement of seniors in various aspects of society.

Understanding these statistics is crucial for policymakers and community leaders as they work to support and enhance the lives of California’s seniors. By recognizing the unique attributes of the state’s senior population, we can better address their needs, ensure their well-being, and celebrate their continued contributions to the Golden State.

With an aging population that brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, California continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs and aspirations of its seniors. The state’s commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for its older residents is reflected in the various services, programs, and resources available.

As we delve into the statistics and demographics of California’s senior population, it is important to remember that behind each data point is a unique individual with their own life story, challenges, and achievements. These statistics provide a snapshot of the diverse senior community, but they cannot capture the full richness and depth of their experiences.

In conclusion, California’s seniors are a vibrant and integral part of the state’s social fabric. They enrich our communities with their wisdom, experience, and contributions. Understanding the demographics and characteristics of this population helps us appreciate the diversity and unique attributes of California’s senior residents. It also aids in the development of policies and programs that can better serve and support them as they continue to play an active and vital role in the Golden State.