Aging Nation: The Economics and Politics of Growing Older in America

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With the impending retirement of some 76 million baby boomers in a period of huge government deficits, public anxiety about the social and economic health of an aging nation is widespread. Some policy makers and pundits forecast disaster.

James H. Schulz and Robert H. Binstock agree that there is considerable cause for concern but insist that a demographic tsunami is not inevitable. The authors analyze the nation's evolving private and public policies, and consider such timely issues as poverty among older people, rejoining the workforce after retirement, Social Security and health care reform, as well as the rise of elderly people as a powerful political force.

Dispelling popular myths and misconceptions, Schulz and Binstock consider the economic, political, and social challenges arising from the aging U.S. population, and present a balanced-and reassuring-assessment of the future.

About the Author:
James H. Schulz is a professor emeritus of economics at Brandeis. He is a former president of the Gerontological Society of America

About the Author:
Robert H. Binstock is a professor of aging, health, and society at Case Western Reserve University. He has served as director of a White House Task Force on older Americans and is a former president of the Gerontological Society of America

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An insightful book about growing old in America by two of the country's leading policy gerontologists is must reading, especially because 76 million baby boomers are approaching retirement. Perhaps more to the point, can a balance be struck between the deserving poor and what is perceived to be greedy geezers?. . . This is a remarkable book that merits our immediate and full attention. The authors point out that instead of giving in to negative Nellies, the time has come for expert analysis, balanced viewpoints and a united effort so that we can secure our futures. Dispelling popular myths and misconceptions, Aging Nation maps out a comprehensive, sensible plan that deserves our consideration."


Tucson Citizen (Arizona)

"[E]xtremely valuable and timely contributions to the struggle against the conservative attack on the nation's relatively modest efforts to ensure a minimum level of collective well-being. These books are analytically rigorous and lucid counterattacks against what Hacker calls the crusaders for personal responsibility and Schulz and Binstock call the merchants of doom.' (Reviewed in conjunction with The Great Risk Shift, Jacob S. Hacker, Oxford University Press.)"


The Gerontologist

"Writing for the general public, Schulz and Binstock describe changes occurring in the US due to the aging of baby boomers and how their retirement decisions will be affected. They also discuss situations they will need to consider and address areas usually covered in separate books: Social Security history, policy issues, reform proposals, health care issues, work and retirement policy, private pensions, and the politics of aging. In particular, they aim to aid readers in figuring out the truth behind pessimistic warnings of future problems in health care and policy for the elderly and describe how these focus on the wrong issues. Instead, they focus on system-wide health-care cost issues, retirement and personal pensions, problems with raising the retirement age, and the myth that the country will be ruled by the aged."


Reference & Research Book News

"At the core of Aging Nation is a description and assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of major programs affecting the elderly (past and current) and rising generations. . . . Chapters 3 through 9 offer the clearest, most judicious assessment of the U.S. political economy in an aging society that I have read. For the quality of these analytic chapters alone, Aging Nation merits wide classroom adoption in gerontology, policy, and social science classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels."


Journal of Aging and Social Policy

". . . this book provides a well-reasoned and readable antidote to the more hyperbolic and even hysterical claims of the 'doomsayers' documented by the authors. But more more than that, this is a thorough, insightful, and readable analysis of the key elements of financial security in retirement—Social Security, private pensions, employment, and health and long-term care."


Journal of Pension Economics and Finance

Midwest Book Review

Highly recommended.

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

A very important and equally timely book. It provides an extremely insightful treatment of the economics and politics of growing older in America.

Journal of Aging and Social Policy - W. Andrew Achenbaum

James Schulz and Robert Binstock unquestionably take places of honor among the elders of the gerontological tribe. Decades of study, teaching, civic engagement, writing, and speaking to peers, lawmakers, and informed citizens have secured their reputations as knowledgeable, judicious, respected experts on the economics and politics of aging, respectively.

History Wire - Where the Past Comes Alive - Steve Goddard

This is a useful primer for any person who wants a sneak preview of the difficult days ahead.

Monthly Labor Review - Marvin Peláez

This timely book offers a worthwhile read for anyone interested in learning about the history of pension plans in the United States, their administration, and their economic impact on retirees.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275984151
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

James H. Schulz is a professor emeritus of economics at Brandeis University and the former president of the Gerontological Society of America. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kleemier Award for outstanding research in the field of aging. Robert H. Binstock is a professor of aging, health, and society at Case Western Reserve University. He has served as director of a White House Task Force on older Americans and is the coeditor of Dementia and Aging: Ethics, Values, and Policy Choices, The Future of Long-Term Care: Social and Policy Issues, and The Lost Art of Caring: A Challenge to Health Professionals, Families, Communities, and Society, all published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition     vii
Baby Boomers and the Merchants of Doom     1
The Phony Threat of Population Aging     25
The Search for Security with Dignity     43
Dealing with Risk     65
The Company Pension: Altruism or Self-Interest?     87
The Pension Lottery: Personal Pension Accounts     111
To Work or Not to Work: That Is the Question     137
Health and Longevity: What Lies Ahead?     171
A Gerontocracy? The Politics of Aging     201
Framing the Issues for an Aging Nation     223
Notes     237
Index     271
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2008

    A reviewer

    An outstanding, readable and credible overview of the economic and political implications of the aging of America... James Schulz and Robert Binstock, two highly-respected scholars, reject sensational and ideologically-driven claims that America cannot afford to support tomorrow's elders, that today's young will be overwhelmed by pension and health care costs for tomorrow's old. The authors identify and discuss strains in the nation's public and private retirement and health security systems. The diverse circumstances of today's and tomorrow's elderly populations are examined. Problems in the occupationally-based health insurance system 'including declines in retiree health insurace protection' are discussed as combining with overseas job competition, declines in employer pension protections and stock market fluctuations to shift risk onto individuals and their families. Schulz's and Binstock's analysis highlights the importance of maintaining the nation's commitment to the social insurance approachas exemplified by Social Security and Medicare -- the foundations of the nation's retirement and health security system. Their political and economic analysis shows how this can be accomplished and identifies trade-offs of various proposals. 'Aging Nation' is a valuable resource for those seeking a fresh and reasoned discussion about choices and complexities, challenges and opportunities, surrounding the 60 year transition of the 78 million persons born between 1946 and 1964 through their middle years and then into their early- and finally advanced-old ages. In discussing this demographic change, the authors examine the implications for differing age groups, taxpayers, employers and families. A public service and an unquestionably useful book for students, decision-makers, the reading public and scholars... 'Aging Nation' should find its ways onto the shelves of many libraries and into the hands of those shaping national discourse about population aging and the future of Social Security, Medicare and related policies. Eric R. Kingson Professor of Social Work and Public Administration Syracuse University

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