Abstract

Increasing life expectancy offers the potential benefit of additional years of productivity and engagement to both individuals and society as a whole. However, it also carries substantial risks. For many, advanced age brings increased disease and disability (including cognitive impairment), financial insecurity, and social isolation. These risks are greatest for those with the least education and financial resources. An aging society must cope with increasing demands for high-quality geriatric care, mounting stresses on social insurance programs (such as Social Security and Medicare in the United States), and the increasing danger that the growing gap between the haves and have-nots will threaten societal cohesion. These risks can be mitigated or aggravated by the lifestyle and savings behavior of individuals, families, employers, and the government. We present policy options in the areas of education, work and retirement, financial security, health care, and social cohesion that can promote the benefits and reduce the risks of longer life.

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