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Project 2030 Report - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Between now and 2030, Minnesota will experience the most profound age shift in its history. Along with the rest of the nation and the world, we will become older not just as individuals but as a society. Such a major shift in the age of a society has never happened before and as such, there are few touchstones from other times and places to guide us into this new age.
The baby boomers—1.5 million strong in Minnesota—will lead us into this uncharted territory as they begin to age. By 2030, we will have 1.2 million persons over 65, or one out of every four Minnesotans. This "senior boom" will fuel the market for goods and services for senior products, and will be the largest group ever of healthy active older persons with time and energy to pursue leisure, work, volunteer, take time to provide comfort, tell a story, bind us together.
Later, in 2050, we will have the largest number ever of people over 85. These elderly will need health and long term care. Because of the size of this group, their need is likely to overwhelm the traditional responses from family, communities and government.
How does a state respond and prepare for such a major change? This is the central question for Project 2030, a two-year state initiative to identify the impacts of the baby boom generation and begin preparing a state response to the changes that accompany the aging of the population of our state.
Project 2030 is housed within the Minnesota Department of Human Services and is being carried out in partnership with the Minnesota Board on Aging. For two years—1996 to 1998—the project engaged a broad range of public and private groups and organizations in discussions and activities to answer the following questions: 1) what do these demographic changes mean for Minnesotans, and 2) what do we need to do now and in the future to prepare—individually and collectively?
This final report includes the answers received to these questions, as well as information on the demographic realities, the issues facing the state in preparing boomers for their retirement, preparing our communities and our workforce for the challenges ahead.
Engaging Minnesotans in the Future
Much of the work of the project was generated through three partnerships. The Minnesota Board on Aging was asked to work on the issues of building communities, ensuring a strong workforce and increasing choice for tomorrow's elderly. The Board in conjunction with its Area Agencies on Aging and several corporate sponsors, held 16 forums around the state attended by 1,800 persons. Their report Preparing for the Future: Minnesotans Identify Opportunities and Challenges for an Aging Society summarizes the information from the forums and the work of several policy committees and makes suggestions and recommendations for the future in the three areas addressed by the Board.
Early in 1998, the governor's office and the commissioner of the Department of Human Services asked each state department to appoint a liaison to Project 2030 to assess each department's readiness for 2030. This group met with project staff over a six month period, completed a survey of each department's business and how the aging of the state's population will affect that business in the future, helped develop issues papers on 2030 topics and worked on a list of 2030 milestones to measure progress toward 2030 goals. Their report, Assessing Minnesota's Readiness: State Department Liaison Report includes common issues, recommendations and specific information from each department on how 2030 will affect its work, what current efforts are underway related to these issues, and what additional work needs to be done to prepare.
The Department contracted with the Citizens League in 1998 to organize and administer a citizen-based policy study that took a deliberative look at the issues, consequences and choices facing the state of Minnesota regarding the aging of its population. Their report, A New Wrinkle on Aging: Baby Steps to 2030, lays out a vision for 2030, consequences of not acting now and initial policy steps for public policymakers, nonprofits and businesses.
As individuals and groups discussed the 2030 issues and talked about what these demographic changes meant, several policy directions began to emerge for our response to 2030. The groups engaged in these discussions offered many suggestions, recommendations, warnings, and advice about how to move ahead and create momentum in these policy areas.
2030 Policy Directions
The nine policy directions identified are:
1. Increase personal responsibility to plan for retirement and old age.
2. Increase options for greater personal responsibility and choice in provision and payment of long term care.
3. Support health promotion and maintenance to prevent or reduce disability rates in our population.
4. Create "age-sensitive" social infrastructures that support and help people as they age.
5. Strengthen, maintain or redesign the service delivery systems in our communities.
6. Build or adapt physical infrastructures to achieve wise land use, lifecycle housing, better transportation and supportive design of public spaces while promoting environmental sustainability.
7. Promote creative use of the state's aging population both in the labor force and in nonpaid, contributory roles.
8. Promote flexibility in the workplace in order to accommodate the changing definition of work and retirement within an extended lifespan.
9. Invest in high quality education and training for our young people to ensure a high quality workforce in the future.
Many of these policy directions are messages geared toward the baby boomers, but many of them also relate to all age groups, including children and youth and our current retirees. What happens in 2030 will reflect the personal and collective decisions that Minnesotans of all ages make between now and 2030.
This final report for Project 2030 includes general discussion of the demographic realities we face between now and 2030, the implications of these facts, trends that will affect what happens between now and 2030 in a number of critical issue areas (retirement preparation, health and long term care, communities, and workforce issues), information from the many forums and committee meetings held as a part of the overall project, the nine policy directions, and a distillation of the hundreds of suggestions made by Minnesotans about what needs to happen to prepare us all for 2030.
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