Americans over age 65 run the country. Here are 7 charts that show how they hold more power than everyone else.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is 69 years old, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 80. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Older Americans dominate the political and economic landscape.
  • The highest seats of governmental and corporate power have a disproportionate share of Americans over the age of 65.
  • Older Americans exercise their political power more through much higher turnout rates in elections, and they tend to be far wealthier than younger families.
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One of the most important power blocs in America is people over the age of 65.

Older Americans dominate the highest seats of political and economic power in the country, and Americans over age 65 are much more likely to vote and tend to be much wealthier than younger Americans.

Americans in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are highly overrepresented in high political office, and the average age of CEOs at their time of hire has been ticking up for several years.

Because of their higher propensity to vote, Americans over 65 are a key target for any politician seeking office, and polling suggests they may be a decisive group in the 2020 election.

Here are seven charts that illustrate the power older Americans hold in the country’s political and economic life.


As of 2019, adults over age 65 made up about 16% of the US population, and that share is growing.

Like many countries around the world, the US population is becoming greyer. A Census Bureau projection in 2018 estimated that by the mid-2030s, there could be more Americans over age 65 than children under age 18.

There are a few major demographic trends fuelling the ageing of the US population. The baby boomers, one of its largest cohorts, are getting older and moving into the 65+ age bracket. Meanwhile,birth rates in the US have been slowing for decades, as they have in much of the world, leading to a lower share of younger Americans.


But older Americans are overrepresented in the seats of power. About half of current senators are over age 65.

According to an analysis from the Congressional Research Service, the average age of US senators in the current 116th Congress is 62.9 years. The House of Representatives is not much younger, with an average age of 57.6 years.


The 2020 presidential race is the first election where both major party candidates are septuagenarians.

President Donald Trump is 74 years old, and former Vice President Joe Biden is 77. President Ronald Reagan was 73 in his reelection campaign in 1984, as was Sen. Bob Dole when he challenged President Bill Clinton in 1996.

The Democratic primary this spring featured several contenders in their 70s. Business Insider’s Grace Panetta noted that as of the next presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021, Sen. Bernie Sanders will be 79, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be 78, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be 71.


The political power of older Americans isn’t just limited to politicians. Ordinary Americans over 65 tend to vote at higher rates than younger citizens do.

In the 2016 election, about 71% of eligible Americans over age 65 voted, a rate 25 percentage points higher than the youngest adults. Older Americans have historically tended to have much higher turnout than younger Americans, according to the Census Bureau.

As such, older Americans make up a key group for any politician seeking office. While exit polling from the 2016 election showed that voters over 65 broke heavily for President Donald Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, polling suggests that seniors may end up backing former Vice President Joe Biden in 2020.


That trend is likely to hold true this year.

An Insider poll conducted on SurveyMonkey Audience aiming to understand Americans who do not plan to vote in the 2020 election found that only 5% of respondents over age 60 did not intend to vote, a quarter of the share of respondents between 18 and 29.


Older Americans also dominate private sector leadership.

A 2019 analysis from executive-staffing firm Crist Kolder Associates found that the average age of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEOs at hire has been increasing steadily for years. That average age hit about 58 years old in 2019, according to the report.


Older Americans also tend to be wealthier than younger Americans.

According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances, the typical family in their 60s and older had much higher net worths than families under 35. This should not be particularly surprising, as older Americans are more likely to have a lifetime of savings behind them, while young adults are just beginning their careers.