VIDEO: Dr. Ernest Gonzales Presents on Intergenerational Bonds at the UN
By NYU Silver Communications OfficeOct 2, 2023
NEW YORK, NY, October 2, 2023 — James Weldon Johnson Professor of Social Work and Director of the Center for Health and Aging Innovation (CHAI) Ernest Gonzales delivered a presentation on productive aging, human rights, intersectionality and intergenerational cohesion at the United Nations’ 2023 International Day of Older Persons celebration at UN Headquarters in Manhattan.
“The question before us is not how do we live a long life, but rather how do we live a long healthy life, with a solid economic foundation; with strong social bonds between family, friends and community; and in a growing diverse society,” said Dr. Gonzales, who is also Director of the MSW Program at NYU Silver. Part of the answer, he said, is “intergenerational cohesion and its power to unite generations across the world.”
Dr. Gonzales’ research is focused on productive aging, equity, discrimination, intergenerational scholarship, and social policy. He gave a brief overview of the economic, social, and health costs associated with the prevailing deficits perspective on aging and the pitting of generations against one another. He also shared findings on the significant unpaid contributions older adults make through volunteerism, civic engagement, and caregiving, and the estimated $850 billion discriminating against older workers could cost the U.S. economy.By contrast, he presented research showing a wide range of social, emotional, education, and health benefits for people across the lifespan from programs, like those at CHAI and AARP, that intentionally bring older and younger people together.
Policies Lag Reality
Notably, Dr. Gonzales said that policies need to catch up to the reality that people are increasingly living for 100 years or more. “At some point each of us will become a caregiver and we will also be a care recipient,” he said. That is just one example of the common ground across generations. Dr. Gonzales cited a study finding that people from Gen Z through the Silent Generation share concerns about mental health, education, the environment, health care and more. He urged policymakers in the audience to be “guided by the principle of intergenerational cohesion when thinking about social policies and programs.”
Video of the celebration, in which Dr. Gonzales’ remarks begin at approximately 52:40, is above and is available with a transcript on the UNDESA DISD YouTube channel.