Oct 3, 2018 in Sociology

Aging may be defined as the buildup of transformations in an individual over the duration of time. By the use of Baby Boomers’ life and several other sources, aging can be explained from various avenues. Aging can be viewed in various aspects that may include cultural, socioeconomic experiences and the economic effects. Age waves can be defined as the different trends in aging over different generations.  The age wave of different generations may be analyzed by comparing the well-being of Baby boomers and that of their parents at the same age. The difference in aging between two generations may be affected by several factors. The past generations have shown indicated a rapid change in demographic changes, these changes have ha d a wide range of social, political and economic implications. The most significant generation categories include the Baby Boomers and the G.I generation. These generations would be coupled with changes that should be discussed in depth.

The Baby Boom Generation

Between 1946 and 1964, more than 75 million babies were born in the US; this would be referred to as the Baby Boom generation. After 2nd World War, the Americans began to marry at younger ages than their parents. This meant that they had children sooner and were able to have children for a longer period before they reached menopause. In reference to the Baby Boomers and their parents, it may be clear that the economic effect of aging of a population leads to increased expenditure by the society when caring for them. This may be due to the long term care which requires some large amount of funding; this brings an additional burden to the government. One may argue that the economic burden of caring for the aged population may be equal or greater than that of raising large number of baby boomers back in the 1960s.

The Baby Boomer population is capable of changing the entrepreneurial market. This may be due to the large number of individuals present hence boosting trade. After the 2nd World War, there were several trait transformations in the population that followed. These populations have adopted new characteristics of life by utilizing technology to cater for the aging. Older people experience great health challenges. This calls for advanced technology. The Baby Boomers generation invented technology that would care for the aged population at later stages of life. This includes improved means of communication, better transportation means. In the present generation, technology, lifestyle wellness and Medicare has altered the age wave between populations in that the aged may be  taken care of extensively and readily, increasing the probability to live longer.

The G.I Generation

The GI generation was the generation born between 1901-1924 that came of age during the great depression and 2nd World War; these were the principal events defining the generation. This generation was acknowledged for having it all and then lost it all, unlike the Silent Generation that may be known for starting with nothing and then gaining it all. When compared to the Baby Boomers generation, the GI generation tends to have worked for fewer years than the Boomers. This was due to the increased health and declines in physical job demands during the Boomers generation.

The Reagan Years

The Reagan history clearly demonstrates how aging can impinge on a nation's economy due to high pensions going to few individuals. Reagan happens to be the known living retired president who earns the maximum amount of pension and allowances. Being the president who knew less about budget than any other president, he rarely had a conversation about the budget. He believed that by giving more money to the rich motivate them to work harder, and that by taxing the poor people’s unemployment benefit would make them work. During his retirement days, he set it that he gets a pension of up to $99,500 every year for life, as a former governor, he would accumulate a pension $30,800. He also received secret service protection from forty full-time agents plus other security at the expense of the government that totaled to $10 million annually. This became the highest ever known retirement benefit in America up to date. Reagan also commanded that the view from his office be extended to Pacific Ocean, at a cost of $173,000; all this was to be paid by the government.

Gay Rights

The recent years may be occasioned by an upsurge in gay rights activism; this has a number of implications to aging. In the cases of aging gays, the problem of the gay couples disclosing their situation to health practitioners becomes the main setback towards the government taking care of them. Hence social workers are increasingly recognizing   existence of a large population of gay and lesbian populations. Due to lack of disclosure by the gay society, the older gays and lesbian feel isolated, desperate, depressed and sexless thus are exposing the community to extreme stress. Research has also shown that whether one is gay or straight, it does not make a difference, what matters most should be the attitude of the individual involved. Gays and lesbians usually undergo the stigma associated with homosexuality before experience aging stigma. It turns out that gays who have positively accepted themselves are able to of growing old less difficult.

It can also be argued that gays and lesbians are more inclined towards getting a variety of friends compared to straight people. This would be due to the fact straight people are more into family matters hence no time to make new friends often, and that the community of friendships is essential to the gays more than straight people. These friends become of much importance to gays for emotional support whenever they require it. In the case of gays, retirement has an additional positive benefit; this would be attributed to the threat of losing a job on the basis of sexual orientation, thus when they retire the concerns of job loss disappear. To meet the needs for older gays and lesbians, communities have formed support groups like the SAGE, of New York City. (Focus on the implication of gay rights on aging)

The Silent Generation

The silent generation famous for having started with nothing, but later gained it all. It would be argued that the children of the Great Depression had different formative experiences that geared particular views of the world. This made them approach life in a different manner from the generations that had come before them. Thus, the silent generation, unlike the GI generation, was better prepared for the future aging challenges. The silent generation felt that they were caught between the generations that preceded them and those that followed. This lead to the rise of stubbornness and progress blocking behaviors in some of the silent generation, whereas the majority off the silent generation were trying to work their identity in relation to whether they should take the path of the builder generation or that of the baby boomer generation. The baby boomer would take care of the aging due to the reduced physical requirements during the baby boomer generation and the increased health care that would deal with the aging society.

The Post War in America

The post war in America had somber effects on the population of the nation. This may be linked to the fact that the middle aged men went to war leaving behind the old and the children. This implied that only dependants would be left behind to help themselves; it may be deduced that the population was reducing when the fighters were dying in the war while there were no replacements made. On returning home after war, veterans rapidly got married as and started families, these marriages were so rapid that such rate had never been seen before in the American history.

According to what has been discussed above, all generations may be affected by the aging population in some ways that require particular attention from the young and energetic population. Most challenges are health related problems that require healthcare services that were not available in the olden days. Thus to counter effect health problem, the older generations used methods such as reducing physical job requirements; several challenges such as the aging population being twice as much as the young generation ensued. Dependency ratio increased thus slowing down the economic growth in the US.

Aging around the World

Aging has become a key point of focus around the world; the following are some of the facts about aging. It is approximated that by 2050, the number of people over 60 years will hit a staggering 2 billion, with three fourths of them coming from developing countries. As at 2008, Japan was leading in the percentage of elderly people, with those above 65 years being 22 percent of the population. With 106 million elderly people as at 2008, china has the highest number of elderly people as well as the total population globally.

Implications of the current age wave

The current and the upcoming age wave may have various social, economic and political implications. The world population is aging; this may be attributed to medical advancements and healthy lifestyles that have increased chronological age of the people. The aging of populations has both long-term and short-term implications. Some of the short-term implications include the increased funding of Social Security and Medicare, imbalances in the working population and dependants due to high numbers of aged people, and the consequent high taxation to cater for the aged. The long-term implications of aging may extend beyond developed nations like Japan and developing nations like china. Recent demographic studies show that the median ages for the wealthy nations may increase rapidly. It may be projected that in Japan, Spain and Italy, more than 50% of adults will be above the official retirement age and that the people above 70 will surpass those in their 20’s. China’s “massive age wave” would be attributed to the policy of one-child-per-couple. China may experience a dwindling workforce by 2020 when its economy is projected be above the US economy. This may owe to the fact that many people born before that policy will be getting to their retirement age. Nevertheless, the US is not expected to age significantly over the following 20 years. The working age is expected to grow due to the net immigration and fertility. So even as the US economy faces high competition from china, the US investors may be advised to focus on local investments.

Conclusion

The characteristics of the generations discussed above portray the pleiotropy of aging. Pleiotropy as used here refers to an occurrence in which a particular locus affects two or more discrete phenotypic qualities. It may be argued that there are some similarities among the generations ranging from the baby boomers to the silent generation up to the present generation in the way the aging generations are cared for. In the gay societies, they have formed organizations that cater for the aged gays and lesbians. In the baby boomers generation, there are improved health facilities and reduced requirement for physical job demands. The same case applied to the GI generation that had improved healthcare. Rapid technological advancements and innovations in the medical technology seem to contribute significantly to global population aging. Aging has a variety of implications ranging from social, political and economical domains. Aging should be a key point of focus; research ought to be done in an effort to mitigate the effects of high number of elderly people against a shrinking workforce.

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