Age and Society © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
Aging and Society • Age stratification varies from culture to culture • “Being old” is master status that commonly overshadows all others in U.S. • All who live long enough will eventually assume ascribed status of older person © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
World’s “Oldest” CountriesVersus the United States, 2006 © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies Source: Bureau of the Census 2005d (projected).
Perspectives on Aging • Increase in life expectancy has led to referring to people in their 60s as the “young old” • Those in their 80s and beyond are the “old old” • Gerontology: study of the sociological and psychological aspects of aging and problems of the aged © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
Perspectives on Aging • Disengagement theory: society and aging individuals mutually sever many of their relationships • Highlights significance of social order • Activity theory: elderly persons who remain active and socially involved are best adjusted • Withdrawal viewed as harmful to both the elderly and society © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
Perspectives on Aging • Ageism and Discrimination • Ageism: prejudice and discrimination based on age • Critics argue that neither disengagement nor activity theory considers impact of social structure and social class on patterns of aging © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
Aging in the United States • The Graying of America • In 1900, 4.1 percent of the U.S. population was age 65 or older; by 2010 it will be 13 percent • Highest proportions of older people are in Florida, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Iowa, West Virginia, and Arkansas © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
Actual and Projected Growth of the Elderly Population in the United States © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies Source: Bureau of the Census 2004a: 113; He et al. 2005: 9.
Twenty-Eight Floridas by 2030 © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies Source: Bureau of the Census 2005c.
Aging in the United States • Wealth and Income • Typical older person has standard of living higher than in the nation’s past; class differences remain • Competition in the Labor Force • In 2007, 34 percent of men and 26 percent of women aged 65 to 69 were in paid labor force • Older workers face discrimination in the labor force © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies
Rising Labor Force Participation Rates Among the Elderly © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies Source: Gendell 2008: 47.
Death and Dying • Death has been a taboo topic in U.S. • Kübler-Ross identified five stages of dying • Kalish laid out issues people must face to have “good death” • Hospice care: has goal of helping people die comfortably without pain • Recent studies in U.S. suggest people are breaking through historic taboos about death © 2009 The McGraw Hill Companies