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Aging Nation

, 304 pages

1 b&w photo, 8 line drawings

April 2008



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Aging Nation

The Economics and Politics of Growing Older in America

With the impending retirement of some 76 million baby boomers in a period of huge government deficits, public anxiety about the social and economic health of an aging nation is widespread. The policy debates are contentious—from deciding who should receive limited subsidized housing and medical services to the ongoing battle over "saving" Social Security and other entitlement programs. Some policy makers and pundits forecast disaster: elderly people will be put out to pasture with inadequate health care and financial resources, and a crumbling social welfare infrastructure will implode under the strain of intergenerational conflict.

In Aging Nation, renowned experts James H. Schulz and Robert H. Binstock agree that there is considerable cause for concern but insist that a demographic tsunami is not inevitable. Drawing from the most current data, the authors provide an in-depth analysis of the nation's evolving private and public policies on retirement, faltering employer pensions, health care, workplace conditions, and entitlement programs. They consider such timely issues as poverty among older people, rejoining the workforce after retirement, Social Security and health care reform, as well as the rise of elderly people as a powerful political force.

Dispelling popular myths and misconceptions perpetrated by politicians and pundits, Schulz and Binstock consider the economic, political, and social challenges arising from the aging U.S. population, and present a balanced—and reassuring—assessment of the future.

James H. Schulz is a professor emeritus of economics at Brandeis University and the former president of the Gerontological Society of America. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kleemier Award for outstanding research in the field of aging. Robert H. Binstock is a professor of aging, health, and society at Case Western Reserve University. He has served as director of a White House Task Force on older Americans and is the coeditor of Dementia and Aging: Ethics, Values, and Policy Choices, The Future of Long-Term Care: Social and Policy Issues, and The Lost Art of Caring: A Challenge to Health Professionals, Families, Communities, and Society, all published by Johns Hopkins.

"James Schulz and Robert Binstock unquestionably take places of honor among the elders of the gerontological tribe. Decades of study, teaching, civic engagement, writing, and speaking to peers, lawmakers, and informed citizens have secured their reputations as knowledgeable, judicious, respected experts on the economics and politics of aging, respectively."

"This is a useful primer for any person who wants a sneak preview of the difficult days ahead."

"This timely book offers a worthwhile read for anyone interested in learning about the history of pension plans in the United States, their administration, and their economic impact on retirees."

"Highly recommended."

"A very important and equally timely book. It provides an extremely insightful treatment of the economics and politics of growing older in America."

"It is gratifying to see two such prestigious observers of aging issues put forward a clear analysis of the aging 'crisis' in the United States. This book is an antidote to the ceaseless drumbeat of doom and selfishness coming from those who would dismantle our key sources of retirement security."

"A must read for the general public, politicians, pundits, and anyone who cares about growing old in the United States. Schulz and Binstock provide expert the analysis, balanced viewpoints, and historical overview essential for countering alarmist scenarios and promoting reasonable public policy and discourse."

"A solid corrective thwack against conventional (and often false) wisdom, propagated by doomsters, about the perils of a nation living longer. Take notes for your own protection."

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