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Population aging is not a looming crisis of the future — it is already here. The ultimate impact of population aging on our standard of living in the future depends a great deal on how long people choose to work before they retire from the labor force. Here there is reason for optimism. In this paper the authors document the striking shift in the U.S. population age distribution well under way, identify the primary reasons for the historic turnaround in labor force participation, and argue that forces such as changes in the structure of employer-provided pensions and Social Security are likely to propel future increases. They explore the diversity of adaptations already at play in the labor market as older men and women seek to extend their working lives and finally, relate these findings in the U.S. to other OECD countries.

This paper series was made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

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