Older New Yorkers at an atm
November 19, 2019

Older Adults: An Economic Powerhouse

Older Adults: An Economic Powerhouse
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Data Dispels Myths About Aging and Health, Economics

New York State, with more than 4.3 million older adults, ranks fourth in the nation in the number of individuals age 60 and older. It is estimated that by 2030, this population will grow to more than 5.3 million individuals, or 25 percent of the state’s population. Further, over the next decade, 52 of the state’s county populations will be at least 25 percent or more aged 60+. Of these, 24 counties will have at least 30 percent of their population above age 60.
Contrary to common myth, the older adult population generally is mobile, active, and healthy. Older adults also bring enormous social, intellectual, and economic capital to their communities. For example, of all the household income generated in New York State, 63 percent, more than $379 billion, is generated by older adults and baby boomers.

According to AARP, Inc., people over age 50 control 70 percent of the country’s wealth and make up 51 percent of consumer spending, more than $7 trillion. In New York, more than 935,000 individuals age 60+ contribute 495 million hours of community service annually at an economic value of $13.9 billion.

Discussions about the demographic changes in America have been occurring for decades, primarily warning of doom and gloom, but in reality, the aging population continues to reinvent itself and continues to be a major contributor to their communities, their families, the local economy, small businesses, and to society as a whole.

The following data are taken from the Kauffman Firm Survey, a longitudinal survey of nearly 5,000 companies that began in 2004:

In every year from 1996 to 2007, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20 to 34.

For the entire period, the 55 to 64 group averaged a rate of entrepreneurial activity roughly one-third larger than their youngest counterparts.

These trends seem likely to persist: two-thirds of firm founders are between the ages of 35 and 54.3.

Additionally, Kauffman research has revealed that the average age of the founders of technology companies in the United States is a surprisingly high 39—with twice as many over age 50 as under age 25.4.

New York State: Built to Lead

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2017 State of the State laid out a comprehensive plan to advance a Health Across All Policies approach to incorporate health considerations into policies, programs, and initiatives led by non-health agencies. This included making New York the first age friendly/livable state in the nation as defined by the World Health Organization/AARP 8 domains of livability.

A Health Across all Policies approach is an approach to public policy across all sectors that systematically takes into account the health and health system implications of decisions, seeks synergies, and avoids harmful health impacts in order to improve population health and health equity. The approach recognizes that:

The health and wellbeing of all citizens is essential for overall social and economic development.

Health is an outcome of a wide range of factors (e.g., changes to the natural, built, social or work environments) many of which are outside the purview of the health sector, necessitating a shared responsibility and integrated response.

All government policies can have an impact (positive or negative) on the determinants of health for both current and future generations.

Efforts to improve the health of the population require sustainable mechanisms that support collaborative government agency work to develop integrated solutions.

Many of the most pressing health issues require long-term budgetary commitments and creative funding approaches.

Under the Governor's leadership, New York was designated the first age-friendly state in the nation in 2017 by AARP and the World Health Organization. This means that the state has committed to embedding AARP's Livable Communities Principles into government programs, planning and procurement.

In 2018, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order directing all state agencies to adopt and incorporate the principles of age- and health-friendly communities into their programs, policies, spending and reporting. The Executive Order builds on the New York State Prevention Agenda, the blueprint to improve the health of all New Yorkers and reduce health disparities. The vision of the Prevention Agenda is for New York to become the healthiest state in the nation. The State has made significant progress with this goal—in 2011, New York ranked 24th in public health outcomes, according to "America's Health Rankings"; in 2018, the State climbed to 10th.

“The fact is, people are staying healthier and more active for a longer period of time across their lifespans, and to be competitive, all of our systems and institutions should be preparing for that population shift,” said Greg Olsen, acting director of the New York State Office for the Aging. “This is a tremendous upside for New York State looking forward.”

According to The National Council on Aging (NCoA), a healthy and active aging population cannot only contribute to the economy and our social fabric, but can help aging Americans avoid chronic diseases or slips and falls that are expensive to treat. The NCoA’s recommendation? Up to 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity or exercise per week.

Healthy aging is a concept that is based in science and psychology. It has a very simple premise: as we grow older, it is important to stay physically and mentally active and socially engaged. Those that do so remain healthier and more independent for a longer period of time.

Staying active can be accomplished through continued work or a part-time job, by participating in a hiking club, by volunteering, or a number of other activities with myriad benefits for your health and well-being. For ideas about how you or an older loved one can stay active, visit our homepage.

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