Yesterday’s post ended with an allusion to the “Hidden Welfare State” and the world of tax expenditures. Households across all income categories are the beneficiaries of government assistance programs, and the oft-reported 49 percent who receive some type of government benefit is true only in a narrow sense. So, in the end, how many of us actually receive government benefits?
Most of us have heard talk about the Baby Boomers and how they will impact the U.S. population in the next few decades. The Boomers are the large group of people (76 million) who were born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1964. The oldest members of the cohort have just started turning 65 in the past year, and they are starting to become eligible for many benefits that are provided to the “elderly.” But more and more, it feels strange to categorize these individuals as “elderly.” The words elderly and senior conjure up the notion of someone far more frail and feeble than the many vibrant, active people age 65 and older with whom a lot of us interact on a daily basis. According to the American Community Survey, 1 in 4 Americans age 65 to 74 are still in the labor force, and many of the others are retirees who still actively volunteer or provide care for grandchildren or even their own parents. These are folks who run in marathons and go back to school. So why are we calling them elderly?