With the transformation of the elderly into the major political force in American politics, older Americans have used their increasing numbers and political power to capture a growing and disproportionate share of public resources. This book explores their emergence from obscurity to political preeminence and considers the effect of their power on other members of society. It traces the shift in public attitude from the 18th century to the early 20th century, when the elderly population increased and needed an economic safety net. It then focuses on the elderly's growing power in the late 20th century and examines how they are receiving an expanding share of the budget for such programs as Social Security and Medicare at the expense of such groups as children in poverty.
Asking the provocative question of what one generation owes another, the author shows that as the number of elderly living in poverty has decreased dramatically, the number of children in poverty has skyrocketed. The book concludes by analyzing the demographic projections of what lies ahead--a static working-age population supporting an exploding population of retirees and a baby boom generation that is ill-prepared for its own retirement. For the next few years, the challenge of an aging population will be a national problem; if unaddressed, it will become a national crisis.
About the Author:
MATTHEW C. PRICE is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.