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The State of 50+ America

Despite setbacks in financial markets over the past few years plus the lingering effects of the recent recession, midlife and older Americans are measurably better off today, sometimes substantially so, than they were a decade ago, and two-thirds of them remain optimistic about their retirement prospects. In the first of a planned series of annual reports from AARP, the well-being of the 50+ population is evaluated in terms of 20 key indicators reflecting four dimensions of well-being - economics, health, lifestyle, and independent living/long-term care.

Although the report shows favorable trends on almost all measures over the past decade, the age 50+ population has not fared so well in the near term, doing worse on all but two of the economic and health indicators analyzed in the most recent year, and declining on 10 of 15 indicators of well-being overall, although the one-year changes were often very small. The report also discusses the effects of declining equity prices and low interest rates on retirement and investment decisions, and concludes with individual commentaries by consumer affairs columnist Jane Bryant Quinn and economists Alan S. Blinder of Princeton University, Alice Rivlin of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown University, and Robert J. Shiller of Yale University.

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