Aimed at exploring the U.S. Boomers’ perceptions and behavior around physical health and fitness, this survey was conducted via telephone by AARP Research, on behalf of the AARP Bulletin, in January 2014, among a national representative sample of 760 Boomers (ages 49-67 years).
Key findings include:
- Over four-in-ten (43%) Boomers rate their physical health excellent or very good while three-in-ten (29%) rate it fair or poor.
- Two-thirds (67%) of Boomers say physical fitness exercise is a priority for them today.
- “It keeps me mobile, not dependent on others (48%), “I enjoy it/it’s fun” (30%), “I have always had this as a priority” (26%), “Doctor recommended it as a must” (26%), and “It makes me feel younger” (25%) are the top-five reasons why physical fitness exercise is a priority for them today.
- While asking the reasons to those who say physical fitness exercise is not a priority for them today, the highest proportion reported “I don’t have time” (30%), followed by “I am disabled/physically impaired” (22%), “I have chronic illness/I am sick” (21%), and “I have other more important priorities” (20%).
- About one-in-six (16%) Boomers are currently a member of a health, fitness, or exercise club. Use of personal fitness mobile apps is infrequent among Boomers – only 7% reported using them over the past five years.
Debt and Debt Management among Older Adults
Source: University of Michigan Retirement Research Center
Of particular interest in the present economic environment is whether access to credit is changing peoples’ indebtedness over time, particularly as they approach retirement. This project analyzes older individuals’ debt, debt management practices, and financial fragility using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS). Specifically, we examine three different cohorts(individuals age 56–61) in different time periods, 1992, 2002 and 2008, in the HRS to evaluate cross-cohort changes in debt over time. We also draw on recent data from the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) which provides detailed information on how families manage their debt. Our goal is to assess how wealth and debt among older persons has evolved over time, along with the potential consequences for retirement security. We find that more recent cohorts have taken on more debt and face more financial insecurity, mostly due to having purchased more expensive homes with smaller down payments. In addition Boomers are more likely to have engaged in expensive borrowing practices. Protective factors include having higher income, more education, and greater financial literacy. Factors associated with financial fragility include having had more children and unexpected large income declines. Thus shocks do play a role in the accumulation of debt close to retirement, but it is not enough to have resources: people also need the capacity to manage those resources, if they are to stay out of debt as they head into retirement.
AARP Online Travel Study
Source: AARP Research
Those who are 50 or older take about six non-business related overnight trips of at least 50 miles from home per year.
Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Retirement Research Center
Ongoing aging of the US population makes labor force attachment of older workers a key question of policy interest. This paper analyzes the influence of macroeconomic factors, such as the unemployment rate, inflation rate and housing price level on retirement timing.
The impact of macroeconomic conditions on retirement timing is not unambiguous. On the one hand, adverse macroeconomic conditions can deplete household wealth. This may compel households to extend their working lives when their wealth unexpectedly declines. On the other hand, a weak labor market in a recession, for example, can induce early retirement if older workers become discouraged about future job prospects. Similarly, a high rate of inflation can adversely affect the purchasing power of household wealth, which should encourage continued labor force participation. However, inflation can also lead to erosion of real wages, thereby encouraging workers to retire earlier than they otherwise would. Variations in house prices create yet another wealth effect for households. Real estate prices may significantly affect retirement timing because housing wealth is a major part of financial portfolios of the US middle class.
Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports
Source: Transportation Research Board
TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 51: Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports describes the challenges of wayfinding, fatigue, technology and equipment, and needed amenities, as well as the practices that airports are enacting to accommodate and improve the airport experience of aging travelers. The report is designed to help users better understand the aging demographic, and define issues and implement effective practices to accommodate aging travelers at airports.
Florida’s Economic Future & the Impact of Aging (PDF)
Source: Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research
From Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (The Graying of the Sunshine State’s Labor Force):
Business contacts throughout the region have expressed, through the Atlanta Fed’s Regional Economic Information Network (REIN), a growing concern with an aging population and a shortage of qualified and interested younger candidates to fill positions vacated by retirees. A recent presentation spotlighted this trend in Florida. The report “Florida’s Economic Future & the Impact of Aging” by Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) notes that “population growth is the state’s primary engine of economic growth, fueling both employment and income growth.” The presentation reports two main concerns for the state: one is an aging population and a shrinking pool of workers, and the other is a growing need for services, natural resources, and infrastructure as the state’s overall population increases.
Florida’s population has grown from 15.9 million in 2000 to 18.8 million in 2010, a nearly 18 percent increase, and it is forecast to grow to 23.6 million by 2030. The population growth adds concerns for not only current older Floridians but also for future older residents, who will help further the demographic trend of an aging population and a labor force whose growth is slowing.
America’s Long-Term Care Crisis: Challenges in Financing and Delivery
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center
An estimated 12 million Americans are currently in need of long-term services and supports (LTSS)—defined as institutional or home-based assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or medication management—including both seniors and persons under age 65 living with physical or cognitive limitations. In the next two decades, the U.S. health care system will face a tidal wave of aging baby boomers. This, among many other factors, will create an unsustainable demand for LTSS in the coming years.
Fewer family caregivers, increasingly limited personal financial resources, and growing strains on federal, state, and family budgets will further complicate efforts to organize and finance services. Although there is tremendous variation in what is, or will be, needed, fully 70 percent of people who reach the age of 65 will require some form of LTSS at some point in their lives. The number of Americans needing LTSS at any one time is expected to more than double from 12 million today to 27 million by 2050. Indeed, the demand for LTSS will substantially outpace the rate of growth in the U.S. economy over the next decade and drive significant growth in Medicaid spending.
Boomers and Finances: An AARP Bulletin Survey
Source: AARP Research
With an interest in learning more about what American Boomers perceive about their financial performance and situation, on behalf of the AARP Bulletin, in November 2013, AARP Research conducted a short telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of 714 individuals age 49-67 years old.
Key findings include:
- Two-thirds (67%) of Boomers say they are doing at least somewhat well financially, with one-in-five (21%) doing extremely or very well and about half (46%) doing somewhat well.
- Regarding how well Boomers thought they would be doing financially at their age, the majority (56%) say they are doing either better than expected (20%) or about the same as expected (36%).
- About four-in-ten (39%) Boomers perceive they are doing better than their parents were doing financially, and over a quarter (26%) perceive they are doing the same as their parents were doing at the same age.
- Over four-in-ten (43%) Boomers expect their children will be doing better financially and about one-fifth (18%) of them expect their children will be doing about the same as they are doing today when their children reach the age they are today.
Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.
2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households
Source: AARP Research
Record breaking cold weather this heating season will leave many older American households facing higher heating costs than last year. While heating costs continue to be higher for households heating with fuel oil than those heating with natural gas or electricity, costs to heat with natural gas, electricity, and propane have risen for many households across the United States.
This report analyzes data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and the February 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook. It examines heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older based on income, heating fuel used, and geographic location. Winter heating costs are likely to be a greater burden on older low-income households than on similarly aged higher-income households, even though low-income households tend to use less heating fuel than other groups. This report will be updated monthly through March 2014 as new data are released.
Young Americans’ Affinity for Democratic Party Has Grown; Majority have consistently aligned with Democratic Party since 2006
Young adults — those between the ages of 18 and 29 — have typically aligned themselves with the Democratic Party, but they have become substantially more likely to do so since 2006.
From 1993 to 2003, 47% of 18- to 29-year-olds, on average, identified as Democrats or said they were independents but leaned to the Democratic Party, while 42% were Republicans or Republican leaners. That time span included two years in which young adults tilted Republican, 1994 and 1995, when Republicans won control of Congress. Since 2006, the average gap in favor of the Democratic Party among young adults has been 18 percentage points, 54% to 36%.
This Democratic movement among the young has come at a time when senior citizens have become more Republican. The broader U.S. population has shown more variability in its party preferences in recent years, shifting Democratic from 2005 to 2008, moving back toward the Republican Party from 2009 to 2011, and showing modest Democratic preferences in the last two years.
Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies
The unsustainable federal budget outlook will inevitably push entitlement reform to the forefront of the national policy debate. As America’s leaders consider reform options, they will have much to learn from the experience of other developed countries, several of which have recently enacted far-reaching overhauls of their state pension systems that greatly reduce the long-term fiscal burden of their aging populations. Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate places America’s aging challenge in international perspective, examines the most promising reform initiatives in nine other developed countries, and draws practical lessons for U.S. policymakers.
Quantifying policy tradeoffs to support aging populations
Source: Demographic Research
Coping with aging populations is a challenge for most developed countries. Supporting non-working adults can create an unsustainable burden on those working. One way of dealing with this is to raise the normal pension age, but this has proven unpopular. A complementary approach is to raise the average labor force participation rate. These policies are generally more politically palatable because they often remove barriers, allowing people who would like to work to do so.
To conceptualize and estimate the trade-off between pension age and labor force participation rate policies.
Methods: We project the populations of European countries and apply different levels of labor force participation rates to the projected populations. We introduce the notion of a relative burden, which is the ratio of the fraction of the income of people in the labor market in 2050 that they transfer to adults out of the labor market to the same fraction in 2009. We use this indicator to investigate the trade-offs between changes in normal pension ages and the general level of labor force participation rates.
We show that, in most European countries, a difference in policies that results in an increase in average labor force participation rates by an additional one to two percentage points by 2050 can substitute for a one-year increase in the normal pension age. This is important because, in many European countries, without additional increases in labor force participation rates, normal pension ages would have to be raised well above 68 by 2050 to keep the burden on those working manageable.
Because of anticipated increases in life expectancy and health at older ages as well as because of financial necessity, some mix of increases in pension ages and in labor force participation rates will be needed. Pension age changes by themselves will not be sufficient.
A cohort component analysis of the 2007–2009 recession
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
A model of employment change between 2007 and 2010 in the absence of the recession was compared with actual employment change as measured by the Current Population Survey. Not surprisingly, results show that actual employment was lower than the model predicted for all age groups; however, differences were much larger for younger workers. Full-time employment was much lower than the model predicted, while part-time employment was much higher. Actual employment change varied widely among occupation and industry groups, but nearly all groups had employment that was lower than the model predicted.
The Health Consequences of Senior Hunger in the United States: Evidence from the 1999-2010 NHANES (PDF)
Source: National Foundation to End Senior Hunger
Millions of seniors are food insecure in the United States, meaning that scores do not have access to enough food at all times for an active, healthy life. What makes food insecurity an even more pressing issue is its association with a wide array of negative nutrition and health consequences. In our earlier reports on food insecurity among seniors (Ziliak et al., 2008; Ziliak and Gundersen, 2011) we documented that food insecure seniors, even after controlling for other factors, were at higher risk of experiencing negative nutrition and health consequences than food secure seniors.
In this report we build on those earlier findings in three main directions. Namely, we add in several new health outcomes; we use four more years of data ; and we examine how trends in health and nutrition outcomes among food secure and food insecure seniors have changed over the past decade. Using data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), we considered the following outcomes related to nutrient intakes: energy intake, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. The set of health outcomes we analyzed were diabetes, general health , depression, diabetes, ADL limitations, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, cancer, reports of chest pain, gum disease, psoriasis, asthma, having had a heart attack, and a self-report of gum health. Here we summarize some of our principal findings.