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Makin' Money

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be

Chris Farrell Jan 20, 2011

Where are the best places in America to grow old?. Joseph Coughlin of MIT explores that question on his blog, Disruptive Demogaphics: Global Aging, Technology & Innovation.

He tapped into the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index–a rich database–to come up with his nuanced list in Aging, Well-Being & the Competitive Advantage of Regions: What the 10 Best US Regions to Age Well May Mean for Economic Development.

Austin-Round Rock, TX
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
Tucson, AZ
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, FL
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
Orlando-Kisssimmee, FL

These places aren’t all fun in the sun spots. (I know, I was walking my dog in St. Paul this morning in sub-zero weather. We’re both Irish, but she’s happy, I’m not.) Coughlin believes a rich infrastructure for aging gives a region a competitive advantage.

The well-being concept is a strategic challenge to regions seeking to attract and retain the lucrative older adult market both inside and outside the United States. From Singaporeans retiring to islands and destinations in southeast Asia to British expat retiree communities in southern Spain, the global challenge to policymakers, businesses and those fostering regional economic development is to combine the aesthetic with the capacity to age ‘well’.

The comedian George Burns used to get a laugh saying, “Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.” It’s no longer a joke. Many aging workers simply can’t save enough to create a solid foundation of savings that will maintain their standard of living in retirement. Survey after survey has shown that a majority of boomers say that they want to work in their elder years. They’re going to get their wish.

But it’s a boon to the economy. Experienced workers will continue to use their knowledge and expertise to boost their employer’s competitiveness and productivity. They’ll pay taxes on their income for much longer than the previous Silent Generation, making the government debt tab easier to meet. And regions that take advantage of aging workers by making it easier for them to stay active and healthy will do well.

As the 19th century British poet Robert Browning put it:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life for which the first was made.

We all do it at some point: We take a break from work, household chores, paying the bills (especially paying the bills) and wonder, “What would I do with a windfall?” It’s usually an imaginary million dollars, maybe $10 million, whatever is the latest lottery figure. Well over at Funny about Money a retired professor who still teaches dealt with just this question after picking up another class:

What on earth am I going to do with $3,672?
Seriously. After a year of living frugally, I actually had to think about how I could spend an extra thirty-seven hundred bucks.

It’s a wonderful discussion of what to do with the windfall. And the unexpected amount of money is probably a far more common windfall than the sums touted by Powerball.

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