Pittsburgh is older, wiser

Pittsburgh is an old town. Not just because it’s been a century since steel mills and Andrew Carnegie ruled the city, but because the proportion of the Pittsburgh population that is age 65 or older is almost 5 percent higher than the national average. Pair that with Pittsburgh’s notorious “brain drain” and you have a city that seems well on its way to becoming a ghost town.

However, there are advantages to having a large, dare we say, elderly population. The elderly tend to stay put — more than twice as many Pittsburghers (13.6 percent) have lived in the same home since 1969 (or earlier) than the national average (6.1 percent). For this reason, more Pittsburgh residents probably know their neighbors than those in cities with higher turnover rates, which makes for safer, more tightly knit communities. Because of this permanence, the elderly are more likely to take a leadership role in the community, whether it be serving on the board of their place of worship, volunteering at the hospital, or taking classes at one of the local colleges or universities. This translates into more money saved, or earned, for the city.

Senior citizens help keep our community safer, richer, and friendlier. And while they don’t share many characteristics with 20-something students, together they make up a substantial portion of the city’s population. However, while most students jet off after graduation, seniors take pride in Pittsburgh as their permanent home.

Students already benefit Pittsburgh by spending money, performing cutting-edge research, and volunteering for local organizations. As students, we should follow the example set by our elders by taking an active and permanent role in our community.