USA facing a rapidly aging population

The United States: Dealing with an Aging Population

The United States, like other industrialized countries, is dealing with a rapidly aging population, with projections putting the number of individuals over 65 at 81.7 million by 2050. While seniors currently account for 15% of the total population in the United States, this proportion is expected to climb to around 21% over the next two decades as baby boomers reach retirement age. According to census projections, almost the whole United States will become senior-dominated, necessitating some changes in the country's social and economic perspective. The higher average age will have an impact on several sectors of the economy, including the labor force, necessary jobs, ethnic diversity in the country, and workforce productivity. Therefore, there is a need to restructure societal beliefs to adapt to the changing situation and ensure the best possible quality of life.

The Impact of an Aging Workforce

As the workforce ages, it becomes less productive due to multiple cognitive and physical issues. While the causative factors are not evident, research shows that a 10% increase in the senior population leads to a 5.5% decrease in the growth rate of GDP per capita. As the baby boomers retire, they will place increased pressure on the health care system thus pushing the country to higher budget deficits as they attempt to fulfill the obligations of social welfare. Moreover, research shows that due to changing schedules, older people may have problems in making new friends hence eliminating the social support necessary for long-term well-being. Williams (2012) notes that after a certain age, typically 30-40 years, people tend to interact less with new people and instead strengthen bonds in existing relationships due to changing priorities. As a result, more people are opting for continued employment rather than retirement primarily to gain a sense of purpose and make new friends.

Age-Based Segregation: A Growing Issue

The course also presented interesting content in that people often associate with those of a similar age fostering age-based segregation. With the younger generations having hectic work schedules, senior citizens often end up in nursing homes where they associate with other seniors. Moreover, new retirees tend to purchase residences in age-segregated communities that do not allow people below a certain age. On the other hand, adolescents who in previous decades would have spent time with their elders are now glued to social media talking to their age mates. In this context, one study found that among Americans 60 years and older, only 25% of them had serious discussions with people younger than 36 years with the figure dropping to 6% after excluding relatives (Neyfakh, 2014). Florida and California provide prime examples of age-segregated communities. However, while the segregation may make sense based on the unique generational needs, it can foster distrust and prejudice among these generations. Furthermore, the practice may lead to ageism where younger people regard their seniors as feeble while the seniors dismiss the young as reckless hooligans.

Improving Quality of Life for Seniors

As the percentage of seniors in American society rises, it is important to consider some options that would improve their quality of life as well as improve the economic outlook and place less burden on the government. There is a need to change the current cultural and social disregard for seniors as feeble and in need of care. Instead, society can view them as an invaluable and experienced member of society. Most people of retirement age are highly educated and identify with their work as it gives meaning to their lives and provides a point of identification. Some countries such as Germany and Japan have already implemented initiatives to retain older workers in the labor force (Cahuc et al., 2016). Such arrangements give companies multiple benefits that offset the perceived reductions in performance. For example, older and experienced workers in a particular organization are already familiar with the industry and specific organizational practices and can, therefore, mentor incoming employees thus improving their performance and reducing employee turnover costs. Furthermore, since these workers have minimal job prospects, they are more likely to remain loyal to the organization and have higher levels of engagement as compared to their younger colleagues (Schwartz, 2015). Therefore, rather than becoming a burden, these seniors would remain productive members of society.

Promoting Generational Integration

Additionally, society needs a major cultural change to eliminate the generational segregation. Having certain domains as the exclusive purview of a certain age-group fosters distrust and a breakdown of communication. The development of integrated communities that allow interaction between multiple generations would contribute towards this goal (Neyfakh, 2014). Furthermore, such communities would improve inter-generational relations as the young ones could learn from their elders and vice versa. For example, while the elder generations view the young as reckless, the millennials are more conversant with digital technology which is essential in the modern world. As Williams (2012) highlights, close relationships are necessary for continued well-being of seniors and help in building psychological resilience. Therefore, integration would also improve social relations in addition to improving the seniors' health.


As America's population rapidly ages, there emerges a need to consider the social and cultural perception of older people as needy. As shown by multiple initiatives, including these people in the workforce has benefits as they possess a wealth of experience that would help in facilitating organizational continuity. Furthermore, increased integration between the young and old generations would allow both to learn from each other in addition to reducing social distrust.


Cahuc, P., Hairault, J. O., & Prost, C. (2016). The Employment of Seniors: A Choice to Clarify and Personalize. Notes du conseil d’analyse économique, (5), 1-12.

Neyfakh, L. (2014). What ‘age segregation’ does to America - The Boston Globe. Retrieved 12 December 2017, from

Schwartz, B. (2015). Opinion | Rethinking Work. Retrieved 12 December 2017, from

Williams, A. (2012). Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?. Retrieved 12 December 2017, from

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