A study of the American Association of Retired Persons

Lenora Gay Ingram, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


This thesis presents a discussion of the role of a public interest group and the potential impact of its participation in the public policy arena. The particular interest group being assessed is the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP. An assessment shall be conducted through multiple factors. The first factor is the evolution of group theory in the discipline of political science. A second factor presents a historical path of the acknowledgement and development of interest groups in the United States. The remaining factors assess the interest group, AARP, as it relates to interest group theory and as it has evolved as an interest group existing in the American political structure. An evaluation is conducted in which AARP is viewed in respect to its unique characteristics of group size, financial base, leadership, and public policy involvement. The thesis is concluded with the belief that the American Association of Retired Persons has the potential to influence the direction of public policy in America because AARP has the internal structural elements to perpetuate as an organization; its membership, consisting of members fifty years and older, leads at the polls in voter turn-out; and because Americans are living longer, the membership roles of AARP are guaranteed to grow.