As America ages, policy-makers' preoccupations with the future costs of Medicare and Social Security grow. But neglected by this focus are critically important and broader societal issues such as intergenerational relations within society and the family, rising inequality and lack of opportunity, productivity in late life (work or volunteering), and human capital development (lifelong education and skills training). Equally important, there is almost no acknowledgment of the substantial benefits and potential of an aging society. The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society offers policy options to address these issues and enhance the transition to a cohesive, productive, secure, and equitable aging society. Such a society will not only function effectively at the societal level but will provide a context that facilitates the capacity of individuals to age successfully. This volume comprises a set of papers, many of which are authored by members of the MacArthur Network, focusing on various aspects of the opportunities and challenges facing the United States while it passes through its current demographic transformation. This essay provides a general overview of the strategy the Network has used to address the various components of this broad subject.

This content is only available as a PDF.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits copying and redistributing the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only. For a full description of the license, please visit