Population and mortality data for the extreme aged have generally been considered subject to a large degree of error, particularly for nonwhites. In this study, estimates of the United States population 85 years of age and over in 1960 are devised through a procedure known as the “method of extinct generations,” which permits the reconstruction of “extinct” population cohorts from a series of annual death statistics. Estimates of the total population by single year of age and of sex-color groups by five-year age groups are compared with the 1960 census. With some exceptions, the data for whites show remarkable correspondence; the tally for nonwhites developed from death records falls considerably short of the census count, indicating a greater overstatement of age in the latter source.

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