Age Segregation

From grade schools to senior villages, we now spend much of our lives on separate generational islands. Can we reverse the trend?

What ‘age segregation’ does to America,” Boston Globe, August 30, 2014

I certainly hope so. This segregation by age is one of the more ridiculously, annoyingly persistent legacies of the Industrial Revolution.

Three things would help:

  • Stop approving “Over-55 Only” developments. These are often requested by planning boards because we’re scared about how more houses and thus more children might change our school taxes, but couched in terms that sound reasonable, such as “caring for our older neighbors.” The former argument is silly anyway: we’re having children later in life. When I’m 55, I’ll still have children in school. But I also need a place to live now. Age-restricted developments not only separate older adults from their children and grandchildren, but they constrain the housing supply.
  • Let the older children teach the younger. Sort school children by ability rather than age, if they need to be sorted at all. If you have more than one child at home, you may have noticed that kids do this already by themselves. They pretty much still do on playgrounds.
  • Play. Stop treating sports and the arts as only for children. Get up off the couch and dance.