cover image The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society

The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society

Mauro F. Guillén. St. Martin’s, , $30 ISBN 978-1-25-028134-0

Boomers and zoomers may be more alike than not, suggests this quixotic study from Wharton emeritus economist Guillén (The Platform Paradox). According to Guillén, people are used to thinking about life as a sequence from one stage of economic activity to another, but now that “the average American born in 2022 is expected to live 32 years longer than in 1900,” people retire later. With this longer work life comes unexpected physical and mental benefits, which, in tandem with medical advancements, have extended our “health span” by 10–15 years. Moreover, Guillén believes that, with the help of new technology, “lifelong learning and career switching” is now possible. He argues that readers should think of themselves as “perennials,” grouped only by one’s economic needs and activity. With greater harmony between young and old workers, common intergenerational disputes around “government deficits, access to affordable housing, underfunding of education, and footing the cost of ‘old age’ programs” will be resolved as a matter of course. Guillén makes some thought-provoking points, but his argument comes off as a Band-Aid approach (older people are nearing retirement without savings or pensions, so he wants policies that help them find jobs, instead of ones that allow them to retire) or, in some cases, downright bizarre (who really wants to “liberate themselves from the tyranny of ‘age-appropriate’ activities”?). It’s an odd account. (Aug.)