Authors: Robert Schafer
June 10, 2000
Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
Concerns over the graying of America seem overblown. While the population age 65 and over will indeed grow dramatically after 2010, the balance between working-age adults and the dependent population will not exceed its historical peak. What is more, with their improved health and better education, tomorrow's seniors will likely continue to work well past the traditional retirement age -- further reducing the ranks of the dependent population. To be sure, the imminent growth in the number of seniors will add to the pressures on federal income support and medical insurance programs. The sharp disparity in wealth among the baby boomers will carry well into their retirement years, leaving many lower-income seniors with few housing and special care options. Elderly renters will face particularly onerous housing cost burdens. For housing developers, remodelers, and service providers, however, seniors represent a large and growing market. With their greater wealth and more active lifestyles, more seniors are likely to own second homes, make modifications to their residences to accommodate changing needs, and choose specialized environments such as active retirement communities, congregate housing, and assisted living facilities. And given that seniors overwhelmingly prefer to "age in place," the market for inhome services is set for a boom.
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