Today, one in eight Americans–32 million people–is aged sixty-five or older. That proportion will rise to one in five by 2020. The number of elderly Americans is growing faster than the U.S. population at large, with those aged eighty-five or older representing the most rapidly increasing segment of all. Because most of the elderly are no longer in the workforce, and because they are especially vulnerable to chronic illness, disability, and social isolation, the projected explosion in their numbers has enormous ramifications for American society and public policy.
This collection of essays, cosponsored by The Century Foundation/Twentieth Century Fund and the International Longevity Center, explores the wide-ranging economic and social consequences of the aging of America. Compiled under the supervision of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and gerontologist Dr. Robert N. Butler, the volume presents essays by some of the nation’s foremost experts on economics, demography, public policy, health care, and the media. The authors include Marilyn Moon of the Urban Institute; Robert H. Binstock, professor of aging, health, and society at Case Western Reserve University; economist James Schulz of Brandeis University; former NBC News president Lawrence K. Grossman; William Gale of the Brookings Institution; and Sara Rix of the American Association of Retired Persons.