note: this editorial originally appeared in The News Journal and delawareonline.com January 1, 2015. Read the original by clicking here The baby boomers continue to age ... and perhaps mature ... and move into the empty nesters retirement years. Currently in Delaware, three out of every 10 residents are 55 years of age or older, and this will rise to 1 out of 3 over the next decade. And thanks to the state’s beaches, the boomers proportion of the population in Delaware has raced past the proportion of the U.S. The one thing Delaware should be sure to do in 2015 is leverage this important resource, the boomers. Why? First, the boomers owe us. More than any other generation in the history of America they have ridden a wave of prosperity. The changes between 1960 and 2010 are astounding. Over that time period inflation (general prices) rose over six fold. At the same time, per capita personal and disposable income rose almost 17 fold, as did the median value of owner-occupied housing. Average life expectancy went up more than nine years for men and seven years for women. The percent of adults with a college degree or more jumped from 7.7 percent to 29.4 percent, encouraged in no small way by low-interest government loans. The average size of single-family houses is up more than 50 percent. The proportion of households with air conditioning went from 11 percent to 89 percent and with clothes dryers from 16 percent to 75 percent. We how have motion lights so you don’t trip over the rake when you take out the trash at night and smartphones to text the children and grandchildren – because they don’t return phone calls. Second, with more wealth and education and better health, on a per person basis boomers give more to charity and volunteer more hours than any other age group. At the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), for example, all of the members of the Board of Directors, the Advisory Council and the Center Directors are boomers. And although CRI has hundreds of younger donors, all the major donors are boomers. During 2015 Delaware nonprofits, social service organizations, schools and governments should aim to tap into the boomer wave. Most boomers have passed the point where they want to accumulate more stuff, and many boomers want to leave the world a better place. And they bring years of experience to the table. No government program or agency is needed to leverage the boomers, just ask. It will make Delaware a better place for us all and the boomers will enjoy being more engaged. Dr. John E. Stapleford is president of the Caesar Rodney Institute.
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