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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. The policy debates are contentious—from deciding who should receive limited subsidized housing and medical services to the ongoing battle over "saving" Social Security and other entitlement programs. Some policy makers and pundits forecast disaster: elderly people will be put out to pasture with inadequate health care and financial resources, and a crumbling social welfare infrastructure will implode under the strain of intergenerational conflict.
In Aging Nation, renowned experts James H. Schulz and Robert H. Binstock agree that there is considerable cause for concern but insist that a demographic tsunami is not inevitable. Drawing from the most current data, the authors provide an in-depth analysis of the nation's evolving private and public policies on retirement, faltering employer pensions, health care, workplace conditions, and entitlement programs. They 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 perpetrated by politicians and pundits, 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.
Johns Hopkins University Press
A very important and equally timely book. It provides an extremely insightful treatment of the economics and politics of growing older in America.
"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.)"
"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
Posted February 15, 2008
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 UniversityWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.