There are currently more than 100 million Chinese over the age of 65, and the number is steadily growing. This change in demographics will have far-reaching consequences for societies around the world. Nancy Morrow-Howell of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University sees this as a positive trend.
“While a common tendency is to focus on the burdens an aging population will place on a country’s economic and social welfare, an aging society represents an opportunity, not just a crisis.” She notes that “older adults are a valuable source of growth in volunteerism and civic service” and that they “benefit their workplace, increasing experience, stability, and reliability.”
By 2050, older Americans are predicted to make up more than 25 percent of the population. Currently, more seniors are interested in remaining productive, with more than 23 percent of adults 65 and older volunteering in 2008. Morrow-Howell urges social policies to encourage this tendency in older Americans. “The imperative to change policies and expectations about aging in America is based on evidence that ongoing productive engagement produces positive outcomes for older adults, their families, communities and society as a whole,” she notes.