Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105 Page 106 Page 107 Page 108AGING IN THE 21S T CENTURY 16 A Scientific Foundation for Policy Good policy at the population level goes hand in hand with better science for understanding aging at the individual level. Having been created in large measure to prepare for the aging of the Baby Boomers, the HRS is now following these cohorts into retirement, to support the analysis of policy options and to gauge the impact of policy changes on all the older population. Scientists are using the data to document needs, to model behavior relevant to policy, and to follow the impact of policies after their introduc- tion. HRS data are widely used by government agencies — the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Government Accountability Office, and the Social Security Administration — to evaluate policy proposals. Social Security and Medicare The Baby Boom delayed population aging in the US by a full generation relative to what it would have been in the absence of that period of high fertility and relative to virtually all other countries at similar levels of development. As the Boomers approach older ages, we face an unusually rapid pace of population aging that will quickly catch us up. We have already seen much of the adjustment in the private sector’s retirement policies — the abandonment of defined benefit pension plans in favor of defined contribution plans, and the erosion of retiree health plans both pre- and post-Medicare eligibility. State and local public-sector pensions are now under similar stress. Perhaps the clearest evidence of the Baby Boom’s beneficence is the positive balances in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds built up during their working years. Those balances will erode and eventually force some adjustment. The HRS is an invaluable source for understanding how different policy adjustments would affect different segments of the population, and what the behavioral responses might be. Similarly, the future of the Medicare pro- gram is now intimately tied to the progress of broad-based health care reform. This creates great opportunities for the HRS to be relevant to evaluating changes, particularly in the Medicare program (Ayanian et al. 2011). For example, one line of research has studied health care utiliza- tion of HRS participants before and after age 65 (the age of Medicare eligibility) showing clear increases in utilization after Medicare becomes available for those who were previously unin- sured (McWilliams et al. 2009). The Role of Families The cohort design of the HRS is extremely valuable for analyzing family behavior. The family experiences of the Baby Boom cohorts differ in important ways from the older cohorts that preceded them. Families are changing dramati- cally with the incidence of divorce, childlessness, and women’s labor force participation increas- ing along with increases in step-families and cohabitation. At the same time, the numbers of siblings and children available to individuals are decreas- ing. These changes will likely lead to significant changes in the availability of family members to provide support in various dimensions as well as in the strength of the bonds between them. The steady state design of the HRS provides research- ers with the information needed to assess how these demographic changes affect family relation- ships, interactions and transactions over time and across cohorts. With its detailed family and caregiving data, the HRS is also uniquely positioned to analyze the effects of important developments in public policy regarding long-term care where families, private insurance, and public insurance are substitutes for one another. Scientists are using the data to document needs, to model behavior relevant to policy, and to follow the impact of policies after their introduction.