On July 20, the Population Association of America (PAA), in cooperation with the Association of Population Centers (APC), sponsored its first in-person briefing since 2019, “Happy Birthday, Baby—Boomers!” on Capitol Hill. The briefing featured a panel of experts who addressed major social and economic implications of the aging baby boom generation. The briefing not only showcased policy relevant research findings for congressional staff, but also underscored the integral role that Federal scientific and statistical agencies, including the National Institute on Aging, Census Bureau, and National Center for Health Statistics, play in supporting the population sciences.

The event was moderated by Dr. Emily Agree, Johns Hopkins University. The speakers, Dr. Linda Jacobsen, Population Reference Bureau; PAA President Dr. Lisa Berkman, Harvard University; and, Dr. I-Fen Lin, Bowling Green State University, delivered a range of important messages:

  • Baby boomers are not a monolithic group. Older and younger boomers are characterized by differences in their health, labor force participation, and wealth. Their differences vary further by race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and gender.
  • Encouraging younger boomers to stay in the workforce longer has many benefits for individuals as well as society and industry. Achieving this goal starts younger than we think and requires policy changes to address the relationship between job characteristics and work limitations to help older workers remain productive.
  • Baby boomers have been pioneers in divorce. Increases in “gray divorce” have financial consequences–especially for women. Policymakers should consider how they will meet the unique health care needs of older divorced individuals.

During a very robust question-and-answer segment, the panel received a variety of questions. For example, they were asked what factors are driving gray divorce and about the international baby boom experience. The audience also solicited the panelists’ views on the implications of declining response rates in the American Community Survey, challenges regarding long-term care and housing for the baby boom generation, and what specific steps can be taken to encourage older people to stay in the workforce.

View the recorded livestream here.

View the speakers’ slides:

Briefing Invitation Flyer

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