Nexus of Age, Diversity and Boomers

By Torres-Gil, Fernando M. | Aging Today, September/October 2008 | Go to article overview

Nexus of Age, Diversity and Boomers


Torres-Gil, Fernando M., Aging Today


Dear Mr. President:

You have arrived at a propitious time in the history of the United States. The period from 2009 to 2013 may well influence this nation's domestic direction for the next 20 to 30 years. Alongside the pressing issues you will face - energy and environmental concerns, national security, the economy - you will find that this country is in the midst of profound demographic changes: the confluence of rapid aging and increasing' diversity.

By 2030, this nexus of aging and diversity will likely give us a large retiree population (predominantly white and English-speaking) supported by a mainly young immigrant and minority workforce (heavily Hispanic). The U.S. Census Bureau, for example, now projects that before 2050, the majority of the U.S. population will comprise etiinic minorities.

What might these trends portend for a new administration? One presidential candidate talked about "the psychodrame of the baby boom generation" and implied that boomers' politics no longer matter in a nation transitioning to younger generations. Yet, if the historically high voting pattern of older people holds, your administration will have up to 75 million aging boomers in the electorate. Their concerns and insecurities will weigh heavily on the body politic.

At the same time, emerging populations of minorities and immigrants are seeking their part of the American Dream. Latinos, in particular, exemplify this country's growing dependence on the vitality, entrepreneurship and productivity of these'groups. Thus, your administration will face the twin challenges of responding to the needs of a large retiree population mat may be as vulnerable and insecure as elders in the Great Depression and satisfying a younger, more diverse population's demands for social and economic opportunities.

A NEW COMPACT

To answer these challenges, I believe that an intergenerational compact is in order for the 21st century. This new version of the social compact of the last generation will stress the responsibility of all ages and groups to each other and will' focus on the common concerns tiiey face: healthcare security, educational and jobtraining improvements, and safe and secure homes and communities. …

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