The Graying of America

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John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” America has always had its challenges when facing economic issues; however, the government has the tendency to avoid the reality of what approaches in the future. There have been several attempts of reform for these types of economic problems. Nevertheless, most have not been successful, and time is running out. One of those issues is the graying of America. What is the graying of America? It is the demographic trend consisting of all the baby boomers that are aging and getting closer to retirement. Even though it does not seem like an area of concern, there are many complications that will result from this movement. Before explaining the various problems associated with the graying of America, it is important to understand the characteristics of a baby boomer. A baby boomer is defined as any person who was born in a period of increased birth rates following World War II between January 1, 1946 and December 31, 1964. The baby boomers represent the largest generation in American history consisting of about seventy-six million people [Gillon, 2004]. The special name for the boomers is derived primarily from its enormous size in comparison to the smaller generations that came immediately before and after that time period [Gillon, 2004]. There was not one previous generation that had been developed on such expansive hopes or had been so confident in their ability to change the world. According to Gillon [2004], the baby boomers were the first generation to realize the American dream of equal opportunity for all of its citizens. Zeitz [2005] described the following: The boomers—a generation born into national wealth and power, raised on the promise of their limitless potential and self-worth, reared on television and advertising, enthralled by the wonders of modern science and medicine—are, for all their differences, a most potent emblem of the long American Century. Even today they remain characteristically unfulfilled. Looking for “more, more, more”—for that “satisfaction” that seems forever to elude them—they will, as they have since 1946, stretch the limits of America’s possibilities and its resources. In 2046 we’ll still be appraising their work.

Zeitz [2005] also stated:

As a generation the boomers have always seemed to want it all: cheap energy, consumer plenty, low taxes, loads of government entitlements, ageless beauty, and an ever-rising standard of living. They inherited a nation flush with resources and will bequeath their children a country mired in debt.

It would appear that even though the baby boomers have created the American culture at every stage in the life cycle, they have also produced several challenges for the younger generations to manage. “In less than a century, the United States will move from being ‘forever young’ to being ‘forever old,’ and the largest part of the change will happen in the next thirty years as the baby boomers retire [Burns & Kotlikoff, 2004].” This creates another dilemma.

One can only imagine now the types of complications that will arise as soon as the large cohorts of boomers begin to retire. “Human demography, driven by simple changes in life expectancy and childbearing, is about to trump the power of economic growth [Burns & Kotlikoff, 2004].” Life expectancy at birth is about seventy-six years, and life expectancy at age sixty-five is seventeen years and seems to be accelerating, which means the nation is headed towards a very crowded world with limited resources [Burns & Kotlifkoff, 2004]. Also according to Burns and Kotlifkoff [2004], birthrates have plummeted so the number of children coming of age and joining the workforce will not be as large as the older population causing all of the forces to be in overdrive mode. These factors combined with the current economic hardships are unquestionably...
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