Aging is mandatory and, in all of human history, not one person has every grown young. On a national scale, the aging of populations proceeds with mathematical precision. Demographers have made and continue to make very accurate estimations of how old the American public was and will be at different points in time.
- In 1930, people over 65 made up just 5.4 percent of America’s population.
- By 2012, America’s 50 and older population will reach 100 million.
- Members of the Post War generation will turn 60 at a rate of 10,000 each day, 4 million each year, for the next 18 years
- By 2020, the United States will have more than 20 percent of its population older than 65 years. For the first time in history, elders will outnumber children under the age of 5.
- By 2025, members of the Post War generation will all be between the ages of 61 and 79.
These changes will occur regardless of how we feel about them. Unlike the vagaries of politics and personalities, aging proceeds with clocklike precision and the arrow of time always points in the same direction. The Iron Law of Aging demands that, each and every morning, we all wake up one day older. This unbreakable law will soon lead to a collision between an aging Post War generation and the youth-obsessed society they brought into being.
A well-known riddle asks: “What happens when an irresistible force confronts an immovable object?” During their long sojourn through adulthood, the Post War Generation has often functioned as an extraordinary and seemingly irresistible cultural force. It is their vision of time, money, faith, childhood and relationships that has transformed American life and ensured that a vigorous, vital, productive adulthood became the measuring stick against which all people of all ages were to be measured. The Post War generation successfully welded the adulation of its own youth into the very core of the American cultural experience. This immovable bias against age is, in large part, their creation.