If the old saying “with age comes wisdom” is true – and recent research suggests that it is – then we are becoming a pretty astute nation. The mature segment of the U.S. population, those ages 65 and over,is growing at a faster pace than any other demographic group, according to a newly released 2010 Census Brief.

Over the past decade, the 65-plus population grew 15.1 percent, compared to the total population, which grew at a rate of 9.7 percent.

Among the four regions of the country, the South is home to the largest number of residents in this age group, with 14.9 million residents aged 65 and above. The Midwest ranked second, followed by the West, and Northeast, respectively. On a percentage basis, however, the Northeast boasts the highest percentage of residents in this age group, according to the Census Bureau.

Among the fifty states, Rhode Island was the only state to experience a decline in its 65 and over population over the past decade.

Americans are living longer than ever before, according to another Census Bureau release, which reports a three-fold increase in the 90-and-older population over the past three decades.

The social and economic implications of an aging America are wide-ranging, directly increasing demand for healthcare programs and social services, and indirectly affecting a plethora of related policy issues. (See “The Aging of America: Are We Prepared for the Demographic Shift?”)