Are the elderly posing a threat to America's political system with their enormous clout? Are they stretching resources to the breaking point with their growing demands for care? Posner explodes the myth that the United States could be on the brink of gerontological disaster. This study offers insight into a range of social and political issues relating to the elderly, such as health care, crime, social security and discrimination. From the dread of death to the inordinate law-abidingness of the old, from their loquacity to their penny-pinching, Posner paints a portrait of the millions of elderly people in the United States. He explores issues such as age discrimination in employment, creativity and leadership as functions of age, and the changing social status of the elderly. Why are old people, presumably with less to lose, more unwilling to take risks than young people? Why don't the elderly in the United States command the respect and affection they once did and still do in other countries? How does aging affect driving and criminal records? And how does aging relate to creativity across different careers?
Observing that people change both physically and cognitively as they age, Posner suggests that each of us has, in succession, two separate selves - younger and older - with different abilities, interests and behaviours. This study aims to consolidate a rethinking of the role of the elderly in public and private life. 18 line drawings, 22 tables