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Public Support for Programs for Older Americans: Continuities Amidst Threats of Discontinuities


  • Fay Lomax Cook


Some commentators argue that one implication of the growing numbers of older persons is increased levels of resentment and anger against the old. Using analyses of media portrayals and the results of public and elite opinion surveys, this paper examines the extent to which one "accompaniment" of the aging society has been growing antagonism toward the old. Results show that, in fact, these analysts are quite right in their warnings about the possible change in anger against the old if we look at the media and views of certain policy elites. However, these media portrayals have not resulted in a loss of public support for social programs for the old. Instead, the public's support for social programs that target elderly people is strong and has shown a remarkable degree of continuity over time. However, amidst the continuing hostile political climate and the politics of blame, which view the elderly as exacerbating problems ranging from the deficit to health care costs, it is difficult to predict how long such support can be maintained.

Suggested Citation

  • Fay Lomax Cook, "undated". "Public Support for Programs for Older Americans: Continuities Amidst Threats of Discontinuities," IPR working papers 95-21, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:nwuipr:95-21

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