The Crisis of Senior Poverty

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on July 13, 2021

If 40 million Americans were suffering from the same severe problem, you might think it would be the subject of considerable media attention, a host of government programs, infusions of business capital, and a hot topic of national conversation. That is certainly what I thought several years ago when I began researching the reality that nearly half of all people of over 55 — one in seven Americans — had no money saved and risked heading into poverty or certainly into dire conditions that would make their lives desperate for decades to come. Well, of course, attention and resources of all kinds were being focused on this, weren’t they? No, they were not. I was shocked, because this is truly an enormous problem yet very little was being done to address it. And that’s still the case. Many of these older Americans in, or near, poverty, are likely to live another 20, 30, or 40 years, but will have few prospects to earn meaningful income or the skills suited to the economy of the 21st century. Sadly, they will become less, not more, able to function in the economic marketplace as they age.

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