This essay series, “Meeting the Multigenerational Moment,” exposes a generational divide in American society that’s complex and deepening. As the opening essay explains, the United States began the 20th century as one of the most age-integrated societies in the world and, through a series of well-meaning social innovations including universal education and nursing homes, ended it as one of the most age-segregated. Today, most younger people are in school, middle-age people are at work, and older people are in age-restricted communities; their lives rarely intersect.

This restructuring has left the country ill-prepared for a world with more Americans living longer lives and more generations living at the same time. Collectively, we face a range of social problems, including wasted human resources, generational tension and rampant ageism, an epidemic of loneliness, and splintered movements for social change. Individually, we’re left without the proverbial village, making it harder to raise children and support caregivers, understand the challenges other generations face, find mentors at work and role models in life, and collaborate across divides to solve problems such as racial justice and climate change.

Meeting the Multigenerational MomentThis essay series, presented in partnership with and The Eisner Foundation, explores how fresh thinking and new social arrangements hold the potential to make the most of an increasingly multigenerational society.

If social innovation is going to help deliver us from a state of what Andrew Scott, author of The Hundred-Year Life, calls “age-apartheid,” it will need to subsist on more than creativity, pluck, and promise. In this concluding essay, we reflect on four ingredients necessary for making innovative, intergenerational strategies a part of every solution.

  1. A New Mindset
  2. More Money
  3. A Supportive Policy Environment
  4. A Research Agenda

Read the full article about multi-generational solutions by Marci Alboher & Eunice Lin Nichols at Stanford Social Innovation Review.