The United States is aging. The number of people turning 65 is rising dramatically as the Baby Boom passes that traditional threshold. And people are living longer. These demographic changes generate challenges and opportunities for our economy and our society, gradually changing our views of working lives, physical, mental and cognitive health, and public policies—sometimes in unexpected ways.
Aging isn’t a simple issue of passing a particular age threshold, but a long and complex process. Health care needs and demands rise well before the age of 65, for example, while people’s ability and interest in working longer moves in the opposite direction. Aging issues relate to changes over the life course and to the circumstances of persons traditionally considered “elderly.”
The Center on Aging addresses the many research and policy issues that arise in this context, using a broad brush that spans AIR’s subject areas and methodological reach. The Center serves AIR’s mission of improving the lives of the disadvantaged by bringing attention to aging issues and concerns, building on work already underway at AIR and also supporting projects on important emerging issues that may not yet be on the nation's policy agenda. Our initial focus on aging in the United States will expand over time to include international concerns, since societal aging is a global phenomenon.
A key part of the Center on Aging’s activities will take advantage of new work around Project Talent, AIR’s huge survey of U.S. high school students in 1960. Those Americans are now 65 and older and offer a rich source of data on many of the issues we will address.
Marilyn Moon is director of the Center on Aging.