For Thierry Dongala, vice president at Americans for Generational Equity, a youth advocacy group, the main concern is getting younger people a voice in the debate over public policies such as Social Security and Medicare. "Young Americans are becoming a minority as a group. So it's not a civil rights issue in the traditional form, but it is because we are now a minority who is being asked to foot the bill for the majority," he says. "It's not like we want to create generational conflict, but what we are asking is, 'Let's have a seat at the table.' "
Among the potential changes being discussed at that table are raising the retirement age, increasing taxes, and encouraging Americans to save more on their own. Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, which advocates fiscal responsibility, suggests a mandatory savings program where people would contribute money that would go into a personal account. "If we made a national mandatory savings plan, younger people would benefit from that, because over a working lifetime, they'd be likely to do fairly well.... It would help boost the benefit back to where they might have been before you had to make cuts," he says.
Kotlikoff adds that because the stock market and real estate markets have seen such drops, young people could also benefit by buying up cheaper assets now.
Adds Dongala, "This issue need not be something that divides us. This is something we should be united around so we can protect the future interests of all Americans."
[Looking for a place to live, work, or retire? Our new search tool can help you.]