Forum Session

Policies for an Aging America: Looking Beyond the Averages
May 9, 2008


Carol V. O'Shaughnessy, MA


That we have an aging society is well known. The growing elderly population is a recurrent and persistent theme in policy deliberations on federal spending for health, long-term care, and income security programs. Gerontologists believe that any discussion of the impact of an aging society on the federal budget must go beyond the size of the population, and take into account socioeconomic characteristics of elderly people. Income, health, marital, and minority status; labor force participation as well as educational attainment; living arrangements; and functional limitations all play a role in assessing the health status of the elderly. Today’s elderly population enjoys better health and financial security, and is working longer, than previous generations. Even though their overall status has improved, some groups have not shared in these improvements. Using a recently released document on the demography of aging, Older Americans 2008: Key Indicators of Well-Being, this Forum session explored the heterogeneity of the elderly population and provided background on aging demographics. This session also included a discussion of issues from experts in the fields of economics, political science, and social policy.


Robert B. Friedland, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Health Systems Administration, Director, Center on an Aging Society, Georgetown University; Robert H. Binstock, PhD, Professor of Aging, Health, and Society, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University; Fernando M. Torres-Gil, PhD, Acting Dean, School of Public Affairs, Director, Center for Policy Research on Aging, University of California, Los Angeles; William J. Scanlon, PhD, Consultant

Slides from the presentations by Dr. Friedland, Dr. Binstock, and Dr. Torres-Gil are available for download.

Related Materials

For more information, see Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics, Older Americans 2008: Key Indicators of Well-Being (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, March 2008).

See also "National Spending for Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS), 2012," (The Basics, March 27, 2014) and "The Aging Services Network: Serving a Vulnerable and Growing Elderly Population in Tough Economic Times" (Background Paper, December 13, 2011).

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