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Gray Dawn: How the Coming Age Wave Will Transform America--and the World Paperback – September 26, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (September 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812990692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812990690
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,787,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The greatest demographic event to happen this century was the baby boom. From 1946 to 1965, 76 million live births were recorded in the United States alone, a phenomenon that's been responsible for everything from the surge in baby-food products in the '50s and early '60s to the roaring stock market of today, fueled in part by boomers investing for retirement. Peter Peterson, author of Gray Dawn, looks ahead at the implications of the baby boom, and what he sees is not the bliss that many of us imagine for our golden years but rather an iceberg that threatens to sink the economy and disenfranchise subsequent generations.

As former chairman of Lehman Brothers and founding president of the Concord Coalition, Peterson, whose previous books include Will America Grow Up Before It Grows Old?, is no stranger to this topic. In Gray Dawn, he takes a worldview of "global aging," and considers countries such as Japan and Italy, where the problem of an aging population coupled with declining fertility are creating particularly acute and, in some cases, unsustainable generational disparities. Peterson writes that "We must make aging both more secure for older generations and less burdensome for younger generations." To this end he offers several solutions, among them encouraging longer working lives and requiring people to save for their own retirement. But avoiding the iceberg means turning the wheel now, before it's too late. Thoughtful, well-researched, and full of charts and statistics that do well to underscore Peterson's main arguments. If you've ever wondered what retirement might look like, you'll find this a provocative read. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The elderly constitute an increasingly larger share of the population, particularly in the most industrialized countries. Peterson (When the Boomers Retire, LJ 9/1/96), cofounder of the Concord Coalition and adviser to governments at various levels, warns that steps must be taken now to avert the crises, primarily financial, that demographic changes could bring. The near future will see each elderly person supported by fewer workers. Social programs differ around the world, as do current and future demographics, but none of the industrialized countries seems prepared for the upcoming demographic changes. Peterson also reflects on the world's political and financial power and how both might shift to countries with younger populations. He calls on leaders around the world to convene an Agency on Global Aging to discuss the issues and find global solutions, offering few answers but doing a tremendous service in keeping the issues open. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.?A.J. Sobczak, formerly with California State Univ., Northridge
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Gary North on November 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Pete Peterson has written several books on the looming bankruptcy of the Social Security system. In this book, he covers the G-7 nations, which are in worse shape than the United States is.
On page 72, he makes a point that I should have seen sometime over the last 41 years, when I first began looking into this problem. An unfunded liability must be amortized, just like a home mortgage. As of 1999, the unfunded liability of Social Secutrity was $10 trillion. The unfunded liability of Medicare was also $10 trillion. The yearly amortization payment that the U.S. government must set aside each year to fund these two programs over the next 30 years at 6% interest is $1.4 trillion per year. You can verify this on any amortization calculator on the Web. Just take off 9 zeroes when you enter 20,000, and stick them back on when you derive the yearly amortization figure.
The estimated U.S. government budget for fiscal 2000 is $2 trillion. This means that, in order to fund these two off-budget programs, the government must spend 75% of its budget.
Peterson might also have made this point: If (if!!!!) the government does not do this, then this year's $1.4 trillion shortfall must be added to the total unfunded liability. And if the government refuses to fund next year's amortization schedule, it will add another $1.5 trillion. And so on, until.... "Sorry, gramps: no more payments to you." I'm age 58. That's me.
The Federal Reserve System will create the money, thereby creating mass inflation, or else Congress will move up the retirement age, year by year, stiffing the geezers. The government-guaranteed retirement myth will end.
The book shows that Japan will hit the actuarial brick wall in 2003. Italy will hit it in 2005. The G-7 dominoes will topple.
This is a great book. When the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations says a crisis is looming, you had better believe it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Rosensweig on August 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a useful and interesting book. It is about a crucial subject. It is particularly timely for anyone interested in both government policy and investment strategies for the 21st century. Demographic trends will be a driving force in the new century. In my recent book, Winning the Global Game, I examine population growth in the emerging markets at great depth. Peterson contributes a very useful focus on the implications of the aging waves that will sweep over every advanced economy. He does the best job I have seen on this key topic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Peter Peterson does it again! I've read his other books, and this one is arguably the most compelling. The reason is simple: Mr. Peterson takes his concerns about the coming U.S. age wave and globalizes them, talking about how the aging of the industrialized world is likely to overwhelm countries that are totally unprepared for this demographic tsunami. For those who like to read public policy prophesy, this book is a gem. And it is also very scary, because it is rooted in a plethora of facts--ones that are very difficult to refute.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doug Erlandson TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It has been fourteen years since Peter Peterson published "Gray Dawn." The biggest problem with the book is that not enough people, particularly those in the civil government, took it seriously. His point should have been well taken back then: We are an aging society. This is true not just of the United States but of all the most developed countries. In fact, it is even truer of Europe than of the U.S. Moreover, our fertility rates are going down, which means that the ratio of older people to younger people will increase. All this will seriously impact Social Security and Medicare, and eventually these will become bankrupt. Now, there is nothing new in any of this. Others have reached the same conclusions as has Peterson. But despite these warnings, nothing has been done to forestall the problems that will arise from an aging population.

If anything, the problem has become worse since Peterson wrote his book. The predicted date of Social Security insolvency has been pushed up from 2040 (per Peterson's projections) to the mid-2030s. The date that Medicare is projected to become bankrupt is even sooner. Meanwhile, the fertility rate in the most developed countries continues to be well below the replacement rate with no signs of recovering. Even in the U.S., which has for some time had one of the highest fertility rates of the most developed countries, this rate has dropped below replacement. Worldwide, though the fertility rate is still above the replacement rate, the differential is shrinking with each passing year.

Meanwhile, both the deficit and the national debt continues to grow at a pace, by the way, far greater than envisioned by Peterson. This, too, is not sustainable. Yet we are doing nothing to rectify this.

Peterson's book should have been read when it was first written. There's even greater reason to read it today. But reading is not enough. Action is required.
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By John Sill on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author combines a large amount of statistics and graphs with his insightful comments to let the reader discover how aging is not just a phenomenon of aging Baby Boomers in the U.S. but a trend in all industrial societies. He then shows the possible problems including fewer workers per retiree, more health care needs, etc. that will challenge social planners and national budgets. Highly informative.
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By Elie Murphy on September 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my husband's 2nd copy of this book. It is one of his "text books," in which he re-reads sections as needed. He bought this 2nd copy to use as a loaner to his friends because he wants to keep his original copy in his "life-lessons-and-direction-for-the-future" library for his own use.

Good informational book to help understand the effects of the aging population on our country and what that means for us.
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