Retirees as a New Growth Industry? Assessing the Demographic and Social Impact

By Watkins, John F. | Review of Business, Spring 1994 | Go to article overview

Retirees as a New Growth Industry? Assessing the Demographic and Social Impact


Watkins, John F., Review of Business


Assessing the Demographic and Social Impact

The United States population, with about 13 percent of its members being at least 65 years of age, is getting older. This phenomenon is now widely known; it has attracted not only extensive research attention but has also been widely covered in the popular press. Indeed, few people have not been influenced by America's aging population in one way or another. We have seen relatives or friends move into retirement, many of our favorite vacation haunts appear each year to have more seniors when we visit, we wonder how best to care for our elders when their health fails, and we express increasing concern about individual financial security after retirement. And a growing number of us are seniors.

A traditional stereotype of 'the older person' includes notions of loneliness, poverty, frailty, and diminished mental capabilities. These notions have, of course, been supported by observations that many elderly live alone after children move away and a spouse dies, income is often dramatically reduced after separation from the labor force, and the human body physically just wears out after so many years. The post-retirement population is, however, far more diverse than traditional stereotypes suggest, and it is now quite evident that a large segment of this population is not only quite active and vibrant, but also relatively wealthy. These characteristics have not gone unnoticed, especially by marketing agencies, housing developers, and government officials at both local and state levels. In short, recent retirees who are healthy and financially secure have been seriously viewed as a potentially viable means for promoting economic development, and interest in this 'New Growth Industry' seems to be spreading.

The central theme of this article is that of retirees as a New Growth Industry. I will not, however, attempt to fully cover existing research nor present new empirical findings. Instead, I intend to play the devil's advocate. By doing so I hope to increase awareness of the complexity of population aging and, concomitantly, of the often hidden pitfalls of retirement-based growth strategies. It has become apparent that attempts to implement these strategies may at times be made without full recognition of the industry's potential impacts. Given the stated perspective, therefore, I offer this brief outline of what is to follow:

* The full impact--or potential impact--of retiree-based economic development cannot be fully assessed until the fundamental underlying demographics are understood.

* Not all areas are necessarily equipped to promote the New Growth Industry, and migration decision making processes relating to an area are an important barrier to success.

* The "glitter of gold" commonly associated with retiree-based development may be blinding, to both those who have it and those who want it.

Pattern and Process in Population Aging

At the turn of the century there were 3.1 million persons aged 65 years and over in the United States. This count increased to about 12.4 million by 1950 and 25.5 million by 1980, and the elderly population is now estimated at over 31.8 million.(1) Such dramatic growth in size, however, does not sufficiently constitute population aging. India, for example, has a fairly young population, while simultaneously experiencing explosive growth in elderly numbers during the past century. Its elderly population size currently rests at a level quite similar to that of the United States. The 'age' of an area's population, therefore, pertains to the relative shares of people found in each age group. In this respect, India's older population has fairly consistently represented from two to three percent of the national total, whereas America's older population share has blossomed from a turn-of-the-century value of 4.1 percent to a current figure of close to 13 percent. Similar and more profound increases have been experienced in European countries, including Germany, Norway, and Sweden (with 1992 shares of 15 percent, 16 percent, and 18 percent, respectively). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Retirees as a New Growth Industry? Assessing the Demographic and Social Impact
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.