Joseph F. Coughlin

Joseph F. Coughlin

Director, MIT AgeLab

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room E40-279
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Phone: 617.253.4978
Fax: 617.258.7570

Joseph F. Coughlin, Ph.D., is founder and Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. He teaches in MIT's Department of Urban Studies & Planning and the Sloan School’s Advanced Management Program. His research focuses on how demographic change, technology, social trends and consumer behavior drive innovations in business and government. He has authored more than 100 research publications and a book on aging and transportation. Dr. Coughlin is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Slate and the online Disruptive Demographics on He was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of “12 pioneers inventing the future of retirement…,” and by Fast Company Magazine as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business.” Dr. Coughlin was appointed by President George W. Bush to the White House Conference on Aging Advisory Committee and has advised non-profits, governments and corporations worldwide. He is writing a forthcoming book with Public Affairs Press examining the convergence old age, business & technology.

Current research questions:

  • How does online information seeking, use of social media and elements of behavioral finance (framing & anchoring) affect retirement planning and health engagement across the lifespan?
  • What is the future of advice and are there generational differences in how professional advice is used in financial planning, retail, health, and housing decisions to age-in-place or move?
  • How might the needs of a multigenerational workforce affect workplace productivity and engagement? 
  • What are the opportunities for innovative design, new products & services, e.g., wellness services, smart home monitoring & maintenance, specialized foods, retail services, communications and financing to support caregiving and healthy aging - and what strategies will be necessary to ensure their adoption?
  • How will the sharing economy/peer-to-peer economy influence the future of housing, community design and transportation?

Dr. Coughlin has advised numerous governments, the World Economic Forum, OECD, and is a Fellow of Switzerland's World Demographics & Ageing Forum. He has testified before Congress, the National Transportation Safety Board and addressed the National Governors Association. A Behavioral Sciences Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Dr. Coughlin works extensively with leading companies translating insights in consumer behavior and decision-making into business innovation. He has appeared on national and global newscasts including ABC, BBC, Globo Brasil, CBC, CBS, CNN, Japan's NHK, NBC and NPR.

Recent lectures & keynote addresses:

He is the author of the on-line publication Disruptive Demographics and a contributor to Huffington Post , SlateBank Investment Consultant and Wall Street Journal MarketWatch RetireMentors. He can be followed on Twitter @josephcoughlin

Recent online articles:

Wall Street Journal

How Technology Will Transform Retirement (December 2015)

How the Internet of Things Will Upend Retirement (June 2015)


Working in retirement means going back to school (September 2015)

Why you need a vacation from retirement (August 2015)

Retirement can’t be defined by financial security alone (July 2015)


When Retirement Becomes a Crisis (February 2016)

The Long Road Home: Autonomous Cars Could Lead to a 200 Mile Commute (May 2015)

Grandma Got Hacked: The Very Old Will be the Guinea Pigs of the Internet of Things (March 2015)

The Atlantic Magazine

Mapping the Community of the Future (August 2015)

Disruptive Demographics on

Why People of All Ages Are Finding Love & Sex Online (February 2016)

Does This Election Break All the Rules of Age-Based Politics? (January 2016)

Will You Need a Rider's License for Your Driverless Car? (January 2016)

Dr. Coughlin's full bio may be found on his personal website (here).


MIT AgeLab
One Amherst Street, Room E40-279
Cambridge, MA 02142
ph: 617.253.0753
email: agelabinfo(at)

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