Economic Perspectives on Aging
The aging of the American population will be a critical public policy issue in the years ahead. This paper surveys the recent literature on the economics of aging, with a special emphasis on government spending on the aged. The US Census Bureau projects that the proportion of the elderly in the total population will increase while the proportion of the working-age population will decline. This demographic shift implies a significant growth in the number of beneficiaries of major federal entitlement programs. Existing rules and escalating health care costs are expected to lead to fiscal pressures and to pose challenges for economic growth. The paper offers the author’s assessment of the forces that determine government spending on retirees. It also examines how the retirement and health care of older citizens might be financed, and measures the potential impact of different reform proposals. Finally, it provides an introduction to an edited volume, Government Spending on the Elderly.