What have been the main consequences of the “graying of America”?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the main consequences has been an increase in Social Security and Medicare costs. People are living longer than ever and some policymakers are worried that in the near future there will be more people taking money from Social Security than pay into it. This may put future retirees'...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

One of the main consequences has been an increase in Social Security and Medicare costs. People are living longer than ever and some policymakers are worried that in the near future there will be more people taking money from Social Security than pay into it. This may put future retirees' financial futures in jeopardy.

Another consequence are issues involved with long-term care. More of the elderly are looking at staying in their homes as long as possible. This has led to an increase in at-home caregiver professions by those who can afford it. Other elderly people move in with younger family members; this combining of households can be stressful for both the old person and the caregiver. There are many issues surrounding nursing homes such as quality of care and the ratio of nurses to occupants. Another issue is the cost of prescriptions. While people of all ages uses prescription drugs, the elderly use them the most. The elderly in the United States use organizations such as AARP in order to lobby Congress to control the price of prescriptions.

While the United States views the graying of its population as a challenge, this graying has already taken place in many European nations. These countries with low birth rates are trying to figure out how to maintain pensions for their current elderly while still being able to provide for future generations.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is a serious political/economic consequence to the graying of America that cannot be ignored. More senior citizens means more voting power for that group. When it comes to programs like social security and medicare, which affect most senior citizens, it is proving to be difficult to make cuts that are probably necessary for the fiscal health of our  country. I  will soon be of the age in which I am dealing with both of those programs, and I'd certainly rather see them modified than bankrupt.

However, senior voting power is making it tough to modify them. That means that if we are going to be fiscally responsible, we might have to cut funding to other programs, such as defense, welfare, education etc.  You can't blame a voting bloc for voting to protect their interests, but you have to realize that it's  going to affect others. A grayer America might mean  that the "not yet gray" have to make do with less.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Older people need a lot of medical care, so health insurance and affordable health care is a major issue. Even when people do draw on their Social Security, they may have to pay taxes on it. So with the rising costs of care and people not having enough money to retire on , there are more older people living in poverty and overwhelming debt.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the problems that I see in the older generation is that when the economy turns, they have nowhere to go.  If you lose your job in your early sixties, and lose your retirement savings and your house at the same time, what happens to you?  Too many people are in this situation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The significant size of the retiring population serves to double the "focus" of assets as this age group tends to have more wealth than younger generations while also being perhaps the largest age demographic in the country. 

This focus of assets affects many areas, from politics to economics, albeit in ways that remain somewhat subtle and un-discussed. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main consequence of this is the increase in the amount of spending we need to do on entitlements.  The two main entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, are both programs to help retired people.  As more Americans are of retirement age, we have to spend more and more on these programs.  This is a major economic issue for the US right now.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team