Looking forward from the census

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Looking forward from the census

by gender news on Monday, April 19, 2010 - 3:45am

Originally posted in the San Jose Mercury News on April 16, 2010 by Adele M. Hayutin Adele HayutinStanford researcher and Director, Global Aging Program, Adele Hayutin recommends we rethink the 2010 census campaign.

The 2010 census campaign says, "The future of your community starts with a look into its past." Measuring change since the last census is so critical that if you didn't return your census form on time, a census taker will knock on your door and ask you for answers. As an economist, I appreciate the effort to get a full count, but more critical than looking back is to take note of competitor nations and look forward to the advantages of our relative youth, even as the boomers age.

Despite what people think, the US is not destined to be an economy dominated by the boomers. Immigration and a higher birth rate in certain segments of the population position the US at the only large economy with a growing workforce. The question is how to harness this growth into a competitive advantage. "With a smaller share of old people, the relative burden of aging in the United States will be smaller than for many of our allies and trading partners," writes Hayutin. "By 2050, only 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65, compared with 1 in 3 for Japan, Germany and many other European countries." In order to capitalize on this potential age advantage versus our global counterparts will require tackling the major issues of immigration, entitlements and education. Hayutin concludes, "What we need is a post-census public service campaign." Hayutin is a graduate of the Clayman Institute OpEd Project Seminar.