Faculty News

Dr. Ernest Gonzales Testifies Before U.S. Senate Committee on Aging

Screenshot of Dr. Gonzales speaking into a microphone providing testimony to the Senate committee. Two people are seated behind him and an ASL interpreter is inset on the lower righthand side of the screen. A live transcription crawl reads "Living a long healthy and meaningful life with a solid economic foundation and strong"
Dr. Gonzales shakes hands with Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging

On April 20, 2023, James Weldon Johnson Professor of Social Work and Director of the Center for Health and Aging Innovation Ernest Gonzales delivered invited testimony at a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, during which he called for the passage of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. “It will send a clear cultural and institutional message that ageism in the workplace is not tolerated,” he said. His remarks also examined barriers to older workers’ participation in the workforce as well as opportunities for older workers to build wealth, community, and retirement savings. 

Dr. Gonzales, whose research is focused on productive aging, equity, discrimination, intergenerational scholarship, and social policy, gave a brief overview of the aging workforce and the significant unpaid contributions older adults make through volunteerism, civic engagement, and caregiving. He also cited research finding that volunteering often serves as the catalyst for retirees to return to paid work. He then discussed both the barriers that older workers face and the opportunities for policies that support productive activities in later life.

“The 21st century is challenging us to ensure everyone has opportunities for economic well-being, health, and meaningful social connections,” said Dr. Gonzales in additional testimony that was submitted in writing. “Continued work and volunteering often result in these outcomes but we must design social policies and programs that are inclusive and strike a balance between work, volunteering, caregiving, education, and leisure. We must also end ageism and all forms of bias. A multi-pronged approach, spanning the macro to micro continuum, offers ideas on how to do so.”

Watch video of the hearing, in which Dr. Gonzales’ remarks begin at approximately 28:45, and download his testimony at aging.senate.gov.