Yung-Ping “Bing” Chen, professor emeritus of gerontology at UMass Boston, passed away on May 10, 2022.
Widely recognized for his work on economic security for the aged, Bing Chen had a distinguished career in academia and as a government adviser. He pioneered the concept of home equity conversion, or reverse mortgages, in the United States and developed innovative approaches to the funding of Social Security benefits and long-term care. His scholarship—including some 200 publications—contributed to a better understanding of the economic, political, and social implications and challenges created by the unprecedented demographic shift to an older population. Chen’s dedication to gerontology earned him the prestigious Robert W. Kleemeier Award for outstanding research in 2010, followed by the distinguished John S. Bickley Founder’s Award in 2012.
Chen was born on November 24, 1930, and grew up in Shanghai, China. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from National Taiwan University in 1952 and a PhD in economics from the University of Washington in 1960. He joined the faculty at UMass Boston in 1988 as a professor of gerontology. In addition to serving as the inaugural Frank J. Manning Eminent Scholar’s Chair in Gerontology during his tenure as professor, Chen made important contributions through his role in the provost’s office from 1991 to 1994. He retired from UMass Boston in 2009. He was a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America and the World Demographic Association.
Three faculty members who worked alongside Chen remember their colleague with great respect and admiration.
“I frequently relied on Bing for his sage advice and guidance regarding department issues. He was always there when I called on him. His contributions to the field and to the University are inestimable,” says Jeffrey Burr, former chair of the Department of Gerontology.
“Bing was an innovative scholar whose work continues to influence key issues in the economic implications of an aging population,” says Jan Mutchler, professor of gerontology and department chair when Professor Chen retired. “His work on Social Security, on reverse mortgages, and on long-term care helped define the basis for scholarly discourse in these critically important areas.”
“Bing was a tireless advocate for the economic security of older people and renowned internationally throughout his long and distinguished career,” says Nina Silverstein, professor of gerontology. “We wondered whether he ever slept, as faxes would come in frequently during the middle of the night to assure that tasks would be addressed at first light. Among the first faculty hired, Bing played a critical role in the formation and growth of our gerontology programs at UMass Boston. We honor his memory and many contributions.”
Chen is survived by his wife, Ching-hwa Hsiao Chen, and his three children.