HKS Authors

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Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government
Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Social Policy


Conventional wisdom calls the 2012 presidential race the “demographic election,” attributing President Obama’s victory in large part to his commanding advantage among rapidly growing groups like Latinos and millennials. But if demographics is destiny in politics, it is even more true for policy. Far from the headlines, the debate over the budget deficit, taxes and unemployment is being driven by large-scale changes in the American population — and in this case, it’s not the new demographics of the young that are important, but rather the old demographics of the baby boom. For decades we have known that the retirement of the baby boomers would be a monumental event for the economy. But now that it’s happening, many fiscal policy makers are acting as if the boomers are eternal teenagers and are turning a blind eye to how the boomers’ aging changes how we should approach economic policy. And this affects two of the central issues of the negotiations: how much the government should spend and how we can cut unemployment.


Liebman, Jeffrey. "The Baby Boom Bump." New York Times, December 6, 2012.