Baby Boom generation faces difficult demographic changes
The contributions these people make will depend heavily on the opportunities they receive, particularly through education. Barriers are especially challenging for many minority children with talent and high aspirations, who continue to attend segregated, underfunded school systems. Currently, high-school dropout rates for Hispanics are more than twice as high as those of non-Hispanic whites. More than a third of Hispanic and black children live in poverty.
Advancement of our young people into middle-class jobs at all skill levels is essential to future economic growth. That growth is, in turn, essential to our country's ability to provide opportunities and social supports. Absent these investments, we are looking at a society whose members will be fighting over pieces of a shrinking pie.
Because of their numbers and clout, the voices of baby boomers will be heard. Let's hope that they, in turn, hear the message that their future, as well as the nation's future, is tied to the well being of today's diverse, striving younger Americans.
William H. Frey is a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.