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Is Demography Destiny?
The Answer is No, Say a Group of
Policy Experts and Academics

Most Americans know that the U.S. population is aging. They have heard about the Census Bureau’s projection that the elderly population will more than double by the year 2040 and they have heard dire predictions about the collapse of Medicare and the Social Security system as a consequence. What they have heard less about, however, is the other factors that will affect the future.

Demography Is Not Destiny (1999), from the National Academy on an Aging Society, uses data from a variety of sources to examine past and anticipated trends. The 96-page report (sold-out, but available for free download) presents some compelling evidence to show that the aging of society poses a challenge, but not a crisis. Also, the challenge can be met with a reasoned set of policy choices.

Demography Is Not Destiny, Revisited (2005), from Georgetown University's center on an Aging Society, this report builds on the originial, updating the data and reexamining the points made in the 1999 report with the advantage of more years of data and the commentary collected from the first version. Both projects were supported by grants from the Commonwealth Fund, a New York City-based national foundation sponsoring independent research on health and social issues. The views presented in these reports are those of the authors and should not be attributed to The Commonwealth Fund or its directors, officers, or staff.