The Aging of America: Challenges and Opportunities

April 7, 2010

Download Story
MF/file
Left: Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, Right: Dr. John Rowe

Imagine a society with many more walkers than strollers. In the years ahead, America will experience the effects of the remarkable increases in disability-free life expectancy and the enormous Baby Boom' generation, 76 million strong, will reach retirement age.

What will life in an aging America be like for the elderly and for the middle-aged and younger generations? We are entering a period of rapid change in many of our society's key institutions, including retirement, education, housing and labor markets, churches, local communities, political parties, government, and the family itself. How do we prepare to address the challenges and leverage the opportunities of our aging society?

Current government projections may significantly underestimate future life expectancy of Americans, according to a Network study. The research finds that by 2050 Americans may live 3.1 to 7.9 years longer than official government projections, resulting in sharply higher costs for government programs that serve older citizens.

Dr. John Rowe is a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and former CEO of Aetna.

Dr. S. Jay Olshansky is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

MacArthur President Robert Gallucci introduced the event, which was moderated by Judy Graham, health reporter at the Chicago Tribune.

 

Recorded Wednesday, April 07, 2010 at Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.