Public policy can be conceptualized as the attempt to balance competing notions of the responsibility of individuals, families, and the state in developing programs to meet human needs. The public policy process is inevitably tied to numbers. Empirical data are the sine qua non of policy deliberation, and the advent of modern computer technology enabling the policy analyst to manage and manipulate large masses of quantifiable information has given even more power to numerical studies. A critical perspective must be taken on this increasing power of numbers to command dominance in the policy process. Policy analysts and observers in the United States seem positively to embrace quantitative studies as a validation of “worst case” fears and concerns about aging. American anxiety over the increased health care costs associated with an aging population also finds an outlet in growing discussion of how scarce economic resources should be distributed between different age groups in our society.