The Aging Baby Boomers. Current and Future Metropolitan Distributions and Housing Policy Implications
In less than a decade, the oldest members of the Baby Boom generation will reach 65 years of age and enjoy longer life expectancies than any previous generation. The aging of this population poses significant challenges because of the sheer size and proportion of this 76-million strong group who were born between 1946 and 1964. In addition to the demographic transformations, household composition and needs are changing. Household size is shrinking while the need for space becomes less important with age. Too much space can be a burden for older people in the United States where low-density suburban single-family housing is the norm. Home maintenance and housing modifications can be complicated and expensive. Accessibility to needed service and recreational resources becomes an issue as the health and faculties of older people deteriorate with age.
The preference of older people in the United States is to "age in place" in their communities despite increasing frailty. Within metropolitan areas (in the central cities and suburbs), the elderly that migrate tend to make short-distance moves to smaller or rental units due to dramatic life changes, such as the death of a spouse or disability, rather than economic imperatives that force them to sell their home. At an inter-metropolitan scale (that is, between metropolitan areas), long-distance migration destinations in the Sunbelt remain popular because they offer amenities and climates attractive to older people.
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