urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Forum -- Rethinking Retirement: Opinions, Obstacles, Opportunities

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
9:00-10:30 a.m. ET

Listen to the event
Audio Recording

The economic and social impact of the baby boom generation is reverberating across the retirement landscape. With the number of Americans ages 65 and older more than doubling over the next 40 years, the flow of retirement, health, and long-term care benefits to older people could jeopardize public spending on other priorities. The upsurge of retirees could also shrink the labor pool, threatening economic growth and living standards.

At the same time, future generations of older Americans will be better educated than past cohorts and probably healthier too. Combined with declines in physical demands on the job, these trends will allow some to work longer, partly offsetting demographic pressures. The talents and energy of older people may also be harnessed in new, socially rewarding “encore careers” or volunteering. On the other hand, many in the diverse older population don’t have the job skills in demand and many won’t be healthy enough to work or volunteer.

Beginning with a demographic profile of the nation’s 77 million boomers and their elders, this unique panel of experts delved into new data on how those approaching or in retirement are thinking about retirement and later life and how their attitudes fit with economic and social realities and their own preparations. What are their expectations for financial security, health care, and aging?

The panel also explored how the idea of retirement has changed over the past half-century and why it will continue to evolve. What new institutions, social policies, and career arrangements are needed to meet the needs of seniors, younger generations, a stressed economy, and an oversubscribed federal budget? And what measures would best help the lowest-income older adults thrive?

John Gomperts, president, Civic Ventures; CEO, Experience Corps

Eugene Steuerle
Eugene Steuerle, senior fellow, Urban Institute

Rich Wolf
Rich Wolf, economics reporter, USA Today (moderator)

Ruth Wooden
Ruth Wooden, president, Public Agenda

Sheila Zedlewski
Sheila Zedlewski, director, Income and Benefits Policy Center, Urban Institute


- Bios

- Encore Survey - flyer (PDF)

- Social Security Hits First Wave of Boomers (link)

- It's Time to Pay our Bills (PDF)
- Facing Up; Spring 2008 News (PDF)

- Gains in Older Workers' Earnings (link)
- Are We Taking Full Advantage of Older Adults' Potential? (link)
- Older Adults' Labor Force Participation (PDF)

Other resources
- Forgive Us Our Debts - book flyer (PDF)
- Where Does the Money Go? - book flyer (PDF)
- International Perspectives on Social Security Reform (link)

At the Urban Institute
2100 M Street N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, D.C.

Light breakfast will be provided at 8:45 a.m. The forum begins promptly at 9:00 a.m.

For information about the event’s sponsors, please see
•    Urban Institute, www.urban.org
•    Public Agenda, www.publicagenda.org
•    Civic Ventures, www.civicventures.org
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