The baby boom generation continues to dominate numerically. Even as they slow down and even retire, their sheer numbers continue to drive American social needs and wants. As corporations increase their global reach and their local dominance, simple demographic currents may rule the day as millions of boomers smother marketing strategies and trends with a simple “That’s not what I want.”
“As many boomers choose to “age in place,” that is, to retire and continue living in their homes and/or neighborhoods as opposed to in retirement homes, they will demand accessible transportation, services, walkability, and access to health care in their communities. These demands also characterize today’s young, educated, millennial generation.
Will cities and neighborhoods be able to cope with these interrelated demands? There are several key reasons for concern and also several important opportunities.
Areas for concern
- Urban Institute models project that between 2010 and 2030 there will be a 70 percent increase in senior homeowners and a 100 percent increase in senior renters.
- As many seniors choose to “age in place” by staying in their homes and communities, their cities and neighborhoods may not be equipped to provide the transportation, services, and health care they increasingly demand.
- Affordable housing is limited, but retirees on fixed incomes and millennials facing an unprecedented wealth gap will increasingly demand affordable housing in walkable urban areas.
Reasons for optimism according to panelists
- Health care will increasingly comprise the largest share of living expenses for seniors, but in-home care and other in-home services can reduce health care costs, and those cost savings can be reinvested in the services that generate them.
- Social Impact Bonds and other public-private partnerships may be well-placed to make the initial investments in the many services that will be needed, increasing economic efficiency and generating profits.
- Technology will allow many seniors to receive health care monitoring and service delivery in their homes, while millennials will use it to interact with and replace many neighborhood amenities.”