As America ages, policy-makers’ preoccupations with the future costs of Medicare and Social Security grow.But neglected by this focus are critically important and broader societal issues such as intergenerational relations within society and the family, rising inequality and lack of opportunity, productivity in late life (work or volunteering), and human capital development (lifelong education and skills training).Such a society will not only function effectively at the societal level but will provide a context that facilitates the capacity of individuals to age successfully.
It is important to keep in mind gerontologist Matilda Riley’s concept of structural lag: the recognition that most societal institutions are resistant to change and lag behind the shifting population of their members. Stakeholders need to detail the impact of socioeconomic, racial/ ethnic, and gender differences on life-course trajectories and specify how they influence the effectiveness of various lifestyle related interventions.
4) Analysis of policy changes should consider both the possible benefits and risks to an aging society and should develop a unifying strategy that optimizes the balance between the two.
The denial continues: a recent Pew Research Center survey of global attitudes on aging shows that less than 26 percent of Americans feel that an aging society is a “major issue”! Contrary to what the popular myth suggests, the passing of the baby boomers through the age structure will not terminate population aging or return us to the age structure of earlier periods of U. The age structure of all current and future populations either have already been transformed or are about to permanently shift, aggravated in part by the unusually large post – World War II birth cohort, but driven primarily by the combined effect of unprecedented increases in life expectancy and decreases in birth rates.
Only Indonesia and Egypt ranked lower on the survey. The second widely accepted myth is that an aging society is defined by and is solely concerned with its elders.
Equally important, there is almost no acknowledgment of the substantial benefits and potential of an aging society.
The Mac Arthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society offers policy options to address these issues and enhance the transition to a cohesive, productive, secure, and equitable aging society.
And Germany’s age structure has not caused ruin for its society or its economy.
Thus, one would think that the experiences of the Western European countries, which are like the United States in many ways, would provide a clear road map for the policies the United States needs to adopt for a successful transition to a productive and equitable aging society.
Failure to reach this goal will leave us with a society rife with intergenerational tensions – characterized by enormous gaps between the haves and the (increasingly less-educated) have-nots in quality of life and opportunity – and unable to provide needed goods and services for any of its members, especially a progressively older and more dependent population. We have time to put in place policies that will help strengthen the future workforce, increase productive engagement of older individuals, and enhance the capacity of families to support elders. Part of the failure to act lies with a set of archaic beliefs regarding the true nature of societal aging.
Many such policies may, at the same time, lessen the burden on Social Security. Given the advance warning decades ago that an age wave was coming, why has U. Stakeholders failed to realistically assess challenges and envision opportunities and squandered the time available to formulate appropriate public policy. Rather, the demographic changes that have taken place over the last century are permanent.