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Retirement and Older Americans

Retired CoupleOur extensive work on retirement policy covers the many ways the aging of America will trigger changes in how we work, retire, and spend federal resources.

The number of Americans age 65 and over will rise from about 13 percent in 2008 to 20 percent by 2040. The recession dealt a heavy blow to retirement accounts, leaving many older adults worried about their retirement security. Read more.

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Children and Youth in an Aging America: Mapping America's Futures, Brief 3 (Research Report)
Nan Astone, Allison Stolte, Steven Martin, Kaitlin Franks, H. Elizabeth Peters, Rolf Pendall, Austin Nichols

Across the United States, both the elder population-those older than 64-and the younger population-those younger than 20-will grow over the next 15 years. The growth of the elder population is ubiquitous, and the growth of the younger population is more geographically variable. We consider the implications of this growth for generational balance across the United States, using an average scenario of America's future. Areas with growing populations will need to invest resources in a young population growing apace and an elder population growing faster than the overall population.

Posted to Web: January 20, 2015Publication Date: January 20, 2015

Methodology and Assumptions for the Mapping America's Futures Project: Mapping America's Futures, Brief 5 (Research Report)
Austin Nichols, Steven Martin, Kaitlin Franks

The Mapping America's Futures project has developed multiple series of population projections for 740 commuting zones in the United States by age, race, and ethnicity. This brief explains the assumptions and methodology of our population projections.

Posted to Web: January 20, 2015Publication Date: January 20, 2015

Can California Teacher Pensions Be Distributed More Fairly? (Research Report)
Richard W. Johnson, Benjamin G. Southgate

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System has been grossly underfunded for the past decade. State policymakers have responded by cutting plan benefits for new hires and raising teachers’ required plan contributions. These changes, however, have undermined teachers’ retirement income security. Only 35 percent of new hires will receive pensions worth more than the value of their required plan contributions. Most new hires would have better financial outcomes if they could opt out of the mandatory retirement plan and invest their contributions elsewhere. Additional plan reforms should focus on changing the benefit formula to distribute pensions more equitably across the workforce.

Posted to Web: December 05, 2014Publication Date: December 05, 2014

The Residential Continuum From Home to Nursing Home: Size, Characteristics and Unmet Needs of Older Adults (Article)
Vicki Freedman, Brenda Spillman

Older adults with physical or cognitive limitations live in a variety of settings from traditional community housing to nursing homes. This analysis of data from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study provides new estimates of the older population across settings and examines unmet needs for assistance. Of 38.1 million Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 or older, 2.5 million live in retirement/senior housing communities, nearly 1 million in independent- and 1 million in assisted-living settings, and 1.1 million in nursing homes. The prevalence of assistance is higher and physical and cognitive capacity lower in each successive setting. Unmet needs are common in traditional housing (31%), but most prevalent in retirement/senior housing (37%) and assisted living settings (42%). Different resident characteristics account for some of the differences across settings, but after controls for individual characteristics, those in retirement/senior housing still have a higher likelihood of unmet needs than those in traditional community. Prevalent unmet needs among older adults with limitations across all settings warrant further investigation and monitoring.

Posted to Web: October 31, 2014Publication Date: October 31, 2014

Disability and Care Needs of Older Americans: An Analysis of the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study (Research Report)
Vicki Freedman, Brenda Spillman

Nearly half of U.S. adults over age 65 (18 million) have difficulty or receive help with daily activities, according to data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study. Nearly all who receive help in settings other than nursing homes—including assisted living and other supportive care settings—receive informal care, and about 30% receive some paid care. Those receiving assistance from paid, non-staff caregivers have especially high rate of adverse consequences related to unmet needs (nearly 60%). Nearly 3 million older adults live in settings other than nursing homes and receive help with three or more self-care or mobility activities, exceeding the level of need typically associated with eligibility for benefits under private insurance or public programs. A disproportionate share of this group is in the lowest income quartile. Although publicly and privately paid care continues to be an important source of assistance to older adults with extensive needs, the higher level of adverse consequences linked to unmet need among those receiving paid care warrants further investigation, particularly because of continuing shifts of long-term care from nursing homes to other settings.

Posted to Web: October 31, 2014Publication Date: April 11, 2014

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