Special Report

The Best (And Worst) States for Older Americans, Ranked

Samuel Stebbins, Michael B. Sauter

Methodology

To determine the best and worst states in which to grow old, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of various measures related to the income, health, education, and environment of the elderly population aged 65 and over in all 50 states.

To construct the indices we used the min-max normalization method. For reference, a similar methodology was used in constructing HelpAge International’s Global AgeWatch Index and the United Nations’s Human Development Index.

Income

The percentage of elderly households with supplemental retirement incomes, such as 401(k)s and pensions, as well as poverty rates and median household income for the 65 and over population are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. Additionally, as a measure of cost of living, we considered data on regional price parity in 2017 from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Health

The percentage of non-institutionalized people 65 and over with a disability came from the ACS. We also included life expectancy after the age of 65 from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Health Data Exchange for 2017; the percentage of adults who reported having a personal doctor in 2018 from the Kaiser Family Foundation; and the crude elderly mortality rate per 100,000 people 65 and over in each state in 2018, also from the CDC.

Education

The share of people 65 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher came from the ACS.

Environment and Accessibility

2018 violent crime rates came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, and the share of workers who walk or use public transportation is from the ACS, which is meant to be a proxy for the reach and quality of public transportation within the state. The concentration of social establishments — civic organizations, bowling centers, golf clubs, fitness centers, sports organizations, religious organizations, political organizations, labor organizations, business organizations, and professional organizations — as well as the number of hospitals in the state came from County Business Patterns and are for 2017. Establishment data was adjusted for the number of residents 65 and over using population data from the ACS.