Americans at Midlife: Caught between Generations

Americans at Midlife: Caught between Generations

Americans at Midlife: Caught between Generations

Americans at Midlife: Caught between Generations


Americans at Midlife is an exploration of the middle years within the framework of trends in the larger society, including longer life expectancy and an aging population; changes in marriage, divorce, and family composition; increased participation of women in the labor force; and the growth of two-income families.


For some years, I have been studying the impact of public policies on individuals and families. A particular research interest has been an analysis of how groups develop informal solutions in the absence of organized programs to meet needs, in areas such as education, social programs or help with disabled family members. Groups also arise for individuals and families with special needs and provide them with information, services and support.

More recently, the challenges and responsibilities of midlife have become a focus of interest as friends, colleagues and acquaintances respond to changes in family composition and relationships. The issues of midlife include such things as young adults not leaving home as readily as their parents at their age, or the impact of divorce, nontraditional relationships or unemployment on family members. Above all, the almost universal preoccupation with aging parents is the issue that led me to write this book. Those of us fortunate enough at midlife to have living parents wonder about how they will spend their last years and whether they will continue to be independent or need care.

These concerns lead many individuals to realize that their vision of midlife as a time for relaxation and enjoyment often can be inaccurate. Some mid-life Americans are concerned about their current and future economic security. Regardless of whether their incomes are large or small, Americans at midlife are planning for the longer lives they hope to have. At the same time, those at midlife today have many advantages as longer life expectancy offers opportunities for continued or new chances to change and develop new interests, experiences and relationships.

In writing this book, I searched through many sources of information on how to make these mid-life tasks easier. Resources on financial planning, relationships with adult children and aging parents and related topics have been put together in one place. The material in the book will direct readers toward . . .

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