DESCRIPTION OF ADULT INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Introduction The purpose of this paper is to describe adult intellectual development as a field of discipline in the 21st century. The paper begins with an examination of the graying of the American population during this century and discusses the relevance of the discipline for the continuing shift in the age distribution as the 21st century progresses. Adult Intellectual Development is then defined as a field of inquiry and its foundational framework is briefly delineated. There is also some discussion of seminal work in the field. Finally, the paper discusses a few areas of research that are likely to become increasingly important as the century develops.
Baltes, Lindenberger and Staudinger (1998) report that projections for the year 2030 (the year when the last of the baby boomers turn 65), show dramatic changes in the age distribution of the United States. In this regard, the authors state that even the first decade of the 21st century is experiencing a growth of older adults as a major political and economic force which will only increase as the century unfolds. This increase will place major strains on social security, other pension systems, health care costs, and the costs of other human services. Indeed, the most rapidly growing segment of the American population, according to Baltes et. al is that of people 85 years of age or older which is expected to increase 400 percent from 1995