Date of publication: June 15, 1989

Author: Rena Bartos


It is no news that more people in the United States are living longer than ever before and that they are relatively more vigorous at chronological ages that used to be considered old. This trend toward longer life combined with the social trends to delayed marriage and fewer babies have accelerated the shift toward an older population mix. In recent years the implications of the changing age composition of our population have been the subject of extensive public discussions. In 1979 the mandatory retirement age was raised from sixty-five to seventy, and in 1986 Congress voted to ban mandatory retirement at any age. The congressional hearings that preceded both pieces of legislation were sparked by testimony about the intellectual and creative prowess of individuals in their seventies and beyond. In spite of the fact that eighteen year olds were given the vote in 1971 it is the older people who turn out at the polls. They have organized politically through such vehicles as the Grey Panthers and the National Association of Retired Persons. They have developed political clout. One of their concerns is to overcome the myths about age and aging that are so common to our youth-oriented society. The executive director of the National Council on Ageing warns that employers must re-think their stereotypes about older workers if able-bodied people over sixty- five are to be able to participate in and contribute to the economic health of the United States

Rena Bartos


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