Seniors 'punching above their weight' in value to society

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Baby boomers have always had more than their share of influence on society, and still do as they move into retirement age, but in a good way.

Although people over 50 made up just 34% of Nebraska’s population in 2018, they contributed 39% to the state’s gross domestic product, according to research released by the AARP.

As consumers, workers, business owners, volunteers and family caregivers, their contribution is expected to grow to more than $150 billion by 2050.

Some of that contribution is difficult to quantify -- coming in the form of an average of 250 hours per person over 50 per year caring for loved ones, amounting to some $2.2 billion of value to society.

In addition, the same group of Nebraskans put in an average of 113 volunteer hours a year, valued at $1.4 billion.

“In truth, people over the age of 50 have a disproportionate positive impact,” said Todd Stubbendieck, director at AARP Nebraska. “When you look at their contribution as a percentage of GDP, they’re outpunching their weight, to use a sports analogy.”

He said the study refutes the idea that older people contribute less to society, and called for investments at the state and local level to ensure those who are struggling economically get the resources and opportunities they need.

Those hours they spend volunteering and caregiving can easily amount to a second, nearly full-time job.

Stubbendieck urged the seniors themselves to look for ways to stay engaged after retirement, and take advantage of new opportunities to volunteer safely from home.

“I think the first place to start is to stop and think, what are you passionate about, and what would you like to accomplish. And then begin to reach out to those organizations that match those priorities for you,” he said.

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