In America, the ratio of children under 18 to adults over 65 is currently about 2:1. By 2030, it will be almost equal.1 Those statistics are among many offered by sociologists who study demography and employment to help them make the case that the aging of the so-called baby boom generation might exert a significant impact on the workforce in coming years. Already in the world of science, particularly in academia, changes have begun that could foreshadow an emerging new workplace structure featuring increased participation of employees who are beyond traditional retirement age.

Such changes were heralded in 1986, when the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 was amended to prohibit mandatory retirement on the basis of age for almost all workers. Tenured university employees of 70 or older were initially exempted, but they came under the law's protection in 1994. This raised the concern that too many...

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