By Michael Muskal, Tribune Newspapers
December 11, 2012
There is good and bad news for women, according to the Census Bureau. They still face various forms of discrimination, including earning less than their male counterparts, but they might have some measure of revenge by living longer.
In a report released Monday, the Census Bureau noted that for every 100 women who live to at least 100 years, there are just 20.7 men who reach the same age. The figures are based on the 2010 census that counted 53,364 people 100 and older in the United States.
Living longer has been a powerful ideological draw for centuries. It was the search for the fabled Fountain of Youth, for example, that sent some from Europe off to the New World as part of the age of exploration.
Since then, science has replaced mythology. Large and steady improvements in trauma medicine, along with pharmacology, clean water and food and access to all forms of care, have helped lengthen life spans, especially in industrialized areas. Why people live longer is a complex dance of genetics and more mundane factors such as income and diets in different cultures.
According to the census data, the number of centenarians was still small compared with the U.S. population. Overall, fewer than 2 people in 10,000 are centenarians. More than half of centenarians, about 62.5 percent, were 100 or 101 years old. So-called super-centenarians, those 110 and older, accounted for just 0.6 percent of the centenarian population in the United States, the census found.
In 2010, 85.7 percent of centenarians lived in an urban area, where perhaps they had better access to health care. By region, 17,444 centenarians lived in the South. The Midwest had 13,112, the Northeast 12,244 and the West 10,564.
With 5,921 centenarians, California was the state with the most. Alaska, with 40 centenarians, had the fewest.
Race and ethnicity were also factors. In 2010, 82.5 percent of centenarians were white, whereas whites account for 72.4 percent of the total U.S. population, the census said. Among centenarians, 5.8 percent were Latino. Overall, Latinos accounted for 16.3 percent the population.
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