Older Americans Key to Nation’s Future Economic Health

On May 10, GSA hosted a Capitol Hill briefing to launch “Longevity Economics: Leveraging the Advantages of an Aging Society,” a new report we developed with support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The title was very deliberately chosen, particularly the word “advantages.” The report takes direct aim at the conventional wisdom that many believe regarding an aging society — that it is somehow inevitably a negative development. Nothing could be further from the truth. This report addresses many of the myths around population aging and provides examples of how population aging can be leveraged to improve economic growth and strengthen the country.

America is rapidly becoming an “every generation nation,” which means that our population is moving toward an almost even distribution of every age group over the coming four decades. The aging of American society, this demographic transformation that is underway, isn’t a surprise. Experts have seen it coming for two generations.

It’s also important to note that this aging of the American population isn’t something being “done” to us. Rather, it is a result of choices made by tens of millions of Americans to have smaller families (i.e. lower birth rates); choices related to immigration policy made by our elected officials; and amazing innovations in health care products and technology that have extended our lifespan.

We need to apply this same innovation and ingenuity to addressing the challenges we have created. Fortunately, we’re good at that — developing new solutions.

As one of the workgroup members who developed this report, Dr. Axel Borsch-Supan, has said, “The main danger of population aging is the lack of adaptation to a new demographic situation and NOT population aging itself.”

We hope this report will stimulate new thinking around ways to adapt to this new demographic situation.