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Baby-Boomer’s Cohort in Western Society Experience Critical Review

Article Reviewed:

Angel, J. L., & Settersten, R. A. Jr. (2015). What changing American families mean for aging policies. Public Policy & Aging Report, 25, 3, 78–82.


The article, “What Changing American Families Mean for Aging Policies: Public Policy &Aging Report,” by Angel & Settersten (2015) seeks to evaluate what is changing American families means for aging policies. The main research problem explained in this evaluation is whether the current social trends have resulted in the growth of social and economic inequalities among American families.

Critical Review

It is clear from the abstract that this is not a straightforward evaluation of the long history of the American families via the gaining policies. The authors start by saying that American families have undergone a drastic change, specifically during the latter 20th century, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in life expectancy, thus affecting the fundamental notion of aging. The authors state that the changes experienced in the American families have made a significant change in their composition over the years (Angel & Angel, 2014). The authors explain that the family’s shift is facilitated by numerous factors such as interethnic unions, cohabitation, lower fertility, permanent singlehood, remarriage, divorce, nonmarital fertility, multiparter, and same-sex relationships.

The authors also acknowledge that the new configurations impact families’ resources and options, specifically in giving and receiving eldercare (Booth et al. 2010). They believe that the hard time associated with recessions has created an impact on the significant support that families have on ensuring that they are caring for the elderly, offering the best well-being in other families across the United States of America. They also pinpoint other additional challenges that minority groups are experiencing, specifically in providing care in light of their social and economic shortcoming. Angel & Settersten (2015) believe that the current social trend experienced in American families is leading to drastic growth of the social and economic inequalities. They write that this has threatened the core value of equity, security, liberty, and efficiency. Angel & Settersten (2015) see these factors as “undesirable,” Thus, they narrow down to discuss the same issues and their implications for gaining families and gaining policies.

Part A: Understanding “Old Age”

The current change in the relationship and family structure, precisely the existence of spouse and child and among baby-boomers has played a focal point in understanding old age when people develop LTSS needs, which can be defined as receiving help with ADLs or IADLs or even having an issue in performing the above activities without assistance. The article has revealed that the change of the family structure and relationship is associated with increased divorce, reduced marriage and childbearing, and increased labour penetration, specifically among working-age women is taking the proactive role in creating a shortfall of family and other informal caregivers (Brown & Kay, 2015). Although there is a change in the family structure among baby boomers, it is indicated that most of them will be in a position to accommodate their LTSS needs with the adverse consequence of relying on Medicaid in old age. This is supported by the fact that the wave of the baby-boomer in the old age will be in a position in depending on other relative and unpaid non-relative. In that regard, the informal caregivers may rise in importance if fewer spouses and children are available in the future.

Other demographic factors also are expected that will take the role of mitigating the potential of the unmet needs and reliance on Medicaid. This is a sensible explanation given that the age distribution of the older population will get younger over the next decades as baby boomers happen to continue to reach 65 years. In that point, it is logical to argue that the caregivers’ age tends to be significant among the eldest of the older population. This is supported from the study done by the National Academies of Science Engineering, and Medicine (2015), where it documented that there is raising education attainment among baby boomers, which has directedly connected with higher health attainment, lower care need, and increased longevity, which will take the proactive role in moderating the need for human assistance and declined functionality. In that point of view, it is indicated that the current change of family structure has resulted in rising male longevity, which means later lower widowhood among baby boomers (Brown & Kay, 2015).

Considering that point of view, it is logical to conclude that the increasing dominance of spousal as caregivers among baby boomers will have greater spousal availability to address their LTSS needs. Technically, the changes in the family structure experienced in baby boomers allow them to understand old age from diverse perspectives. Ideally, given that they have high-level divorces, less marriage, and childbearing, it is clear that there is a possibility of fewer spouses and children as a caregiver (Brown & Kay, 2015). In that point of view, they will have to highly depend on the formal long-term care system, more significant unmet needs, and increasingly rely on Medicaid program as they reach old age. From an implication point of view, the large size of the baby boomer cohort ultimately might increase the proportion of the more ageing population at risk of needing the LTSS. However, marriage and childbearing are not critical aspects for determining the future rates of the unmet needs and reliance on Medicaid.

Part B: Reshaping Intergenerational Relations

The relationship experience that baby boomers have experienced in modern society has played a focal point in reshaping their intergenerational relations. Ideally, based on the previous research on the concept, it has been noted that the baby boomer intergenerational relationship has played a focal point in shaping educational, cultural, and economic experience throughout their childhood. This is supported by the fact that the baby boomers have managed to experience a significantly different social circumstance than their parents, including the concept of women’s movement, enhanced education options, rising divorce rate, and sexual revolution (Sayer, Bianchi, & Robinson, 2004). In that regard, the change in the relationship they have experienced has taken the role of reshaping their intergenerational relations, specifically in their family ties. However, in the past century, it has been noted that the norm of the intergenerational has started weakening as they are entering late life, where they have limited societal guidance concerning their responsibilities for older parents of the grown child. In that point of view, the change in the relationship in the baby boomer has contributed to the reshaping of the intergenerational relatinshi0p since they ensured that they are providing care to ageing parents, and this is done based on their original family ties. This age group experienced a higher sibship than did earlier or later cohorts over the last century.

Baby boomers should be acknowledged for the intergenerational relationship reshape established in our families. Even though there is an issue of differentiation experienced in the modern family structure change, it has remained noted that the intergenerational relationship has been maintained. It is not essential due to the family ties that this cohort installed in our society. This is supported by the fact that the characteristics of the offspring fuel differentiation. For that matter, it is logical to argue that the parents’ factor is not essential when differentiation occurs due to the culture change and relationship that the baby boomer cohort installed in families (Sayer, Bianchi, & Robinson, 2004). From an implication point of view, it has remained revealed that differentiation has created an issue with children’s well-being. According to the study done by WFDS, they opined that parental differentiation significantly impacted adult children. This is because most of the children who realize that there is differentiation among children happen to have more significant challenges and troubles in their relationship with other siblings and higher depressive symptoms (Pillemer et al. 2009).


Overall, this article is very straightforward in the beginning, and it leaves you with the knowledge and understanding of where the article is headed. I don’t see any amendment that needs to be made in this article so that it can engage more people in reading it. The authors have given a detailed and concise abstract with the relevant example that is practically in everyday life of what changing American families mean for aging policies. Further, it is a well-written article with an important message on the topic, good examples, and practical evidence from previous studies. When taken as a whole, the piece is relevant and very convincing in theory, and I propose that there is a need for this article to be published, and it will be of worth if you read it.


Angel, R. J., & Angel, J. L. (2014). Latinos in an aging world: Social, psychological, and economic perspectives. Routledge.

Booth, A., Brown, S. L., Landale, N. S., Manning, W. D., & McHale, S. M. (Eds.). (2011). Early adulthood in a family context (Vol. 2). Springer Science & Business Media.

Brown, Kay. 2015. Older Adults: Federal Strategy Needed to Help Ensure Efficient and Effective Delivery of Home and Community-Based Services and Supports. Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office.

Brown, Susan L., and I-Fen Lin. 2012. “The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce among Middle-Aged and Older Adults, 1990-2010.” Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(6): 731-41.

Pillemer K, Suitor JJ. Making choices: A within-family study of caregiver selection. The Gerontologist. 2009;46:439–448. doi: 10.1093/geront/46.4.439. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Sayer LC, Bianchi SM, Robinson JR. Are parents investing less in children? Trends in mothers’ and fathers’ time with children. American Journal of Sociology. 2004;110:1–43. [Google Scholar]

Settersten, R., & Ray, B. E. (2010). Not quite adults: Why 20-somethings are choosing a slower path to adulthood, and why it’s good for everyone. Bantam.


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