Older and Active: How Americans over 55 Are Contributing to Society

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Older people in the United States are living longer, staying healthier, and leaving the labor force earlier than ever before. They have leisure time and are willing, able, and qualified to be productive members of society.

This book focuses on the contributions that many older people can and do make and the policy changes that are necessary to harness this productive capacity-for the good of the country and for the good of the individuals involved. The contributors to this book-experts in economics, sociology, political science, social welfare, and policy studies-have drawn on new data from a survey of 2,999 Americans aged 55 and older conducted by Louis Harris Associates for The Commonwealth Fund. One chapter also analyzes results from a cross-national survey of 900 people aged 65 and older in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, West Germany, and Japan. According to the findings, three out of four older Americans are actively engaged in working for pay, volunteering for organizations, caring for sick or disabled relatives or friends, or helping their children or grandchildren. Many are involved in several of these activities. The book thus corrects the stereotypes of seniors as affluent retirees or frail dependents, providing a more accurate description of older people's interests and activities. It also assesses the economic value of their productivity and recommends ways to facilitate their involvement in the work force.

Copublished with The Commonwealth Fund

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Yale University Press
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