The Futures of Old Age


Edited by: John A. Vincent, Chris Phillipson & Murna Downs

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: The Future of the Life Course

    Part II: The Future of Social Differentiation

    Part III: The Future of Retirement and Pensions

    Part IV: The Future for ‘Self’ in Old Age

    Part V: The Future for Health and Well-Being in Old Age

    Part VI: The Future of Family and Living Arrangements for Older People

    Part VII: Globalization and the Future of Old Age

  • Copyright

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    List of Figures and Tables

    • 4.1Percentage with a private pension, women and men aged 65+, by socioeconomic category48
    • 6.1Ethnic differences in health, men aged 55 or older in England65
    • 6.2Equivalized household income by ethnic group for households with one or more persons aged 50 or older in England65
    • 6.3Fair or bad self-reported health by ethnic group and age, England 199968
    • 8.1Annual number of births, England and Wales, 1916–200389
    • 8.2Proportion of men in employment, by birth cohort90
    • 8.3aProportion of women in full-time employment, by birth cohort91
    • 8.3bProportion of women in part-time employment, by birth cohort92
    • 8.4Proportion of men unemployed, by birth cohort93
    • 8.51960s baby-boomers at age 40: pension membership, housing tenure and any children96
    • 15.1Schematic framework of the role of structure and agency in the development and maintenance of quality of life through life-course experience156
    • 21.1The changing life course in Britain, 1850s–2030s211
    • 21.2Migration and the accumulation of human capital through the life course213
    • 4.1Private pensions provision of those aged 65 and over, by marital status and socioeconomic group, 2001/0249
    • 4.2Educational attainment by occupational class, gender and age group51
    • 4.3Trends in female life expectancy at age 65 by social class, England and Wales52
    • 5.1Percentage of women (a) in full-time employment and (b) contributing to an occupational or personal pension, by whether they have had children and age group60
    • 6.1Ethnic composition of the population of England and Wales, 200164
    • 6.2Employment and class by age, ethnicity and place of birth: England 200170
    • 8.1Membership of occupational or private pension scheme at selected ages, by gender and birth cohort (%)89
    • 8.2Absolute and relative income position at age 40 amongst the different baby-boomer cohorts and their parents' generation94
    • 8.3Inequality within birth cohorts at selected ages: Gini coefficient of adult equivalent household income95
    • 9.1Growth in stock markets in new EU member states101
    • 9.2Stock markets in the Middle East102
    • 9.3European Union: productivity gains necessary to absorb increased social transfers over the next 40 years104
    • 16.1Mean age of females at first marriage in the European Union, 1960–2000166
    • 16.2Mean age of women at birth of first child in the European Union, 1960–2000167
    • 17.1Changes in marital status over time in England and Wales, 2001 and 2021, age 65 and over173
    • 18.1Nursing, residential and long-stay hospital care of elderly and physically disabled people, places by sector, UK, 1970–2001184

    List of Contributors

    Sara Arber is Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG) at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. She was President of the British Sociological Association (1999–2001).

    Vern Bengtson holds the AARP/University Chair in Gerontology and is Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California, USA.

    Simon Biggs has a background in social psychology and social policy and is Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Institute of Gerontology at King's College London, UK.

    Andrew Blaikie is Professor of Historical Sociology in the School of Social Science at the University of Aberdeen, UK. He is co-editor of the journal Cultural Sociology.

    John Bond was trained as a sociologist. He is Professor of Social Gerontology and Health Services Research at the Centre for Health Services Research, and an Associate Director of the Institute for Ageing and Health, based at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He is senior editor of the BSG introductory textbook Ageing in Society.

    Errollyn Bruce is Lecturer in Dementia Studies with the Bradford Dementia Group, the Division of Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford, UK.

    Peter Coleman is Professor of Psychogerontology at the University of Southampton, and was editor of the BSG's journal Ageing and Society 1992–96 and co-editor of the first two editions of its textbook Ageing in Society: An Introduction to Social Gerontology, 1990 and 1993.

    Lynne Corner is Research Associate at the Centre for Health Services Research and Institute for Aging and Health at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She is also coordinator for Years Ahead - the North East Forum on Aging.

    Dale Dannefer is Professor of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA.

    Kate Davidson was originally a nurse and health visitor before undertaking a degree in Social Policy as a mature student. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, UK and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG). She was BSG Secretary 1996–2002 and is currently President

    Elect taking office 2006–2008.

    Murna Downs is Professor of Dementia Studies and Head of the Bradford Dementia Group, the Division of Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford, UK. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the British Society of Gerontology.

    Maria Evandrou is Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton, UK. She was Honorary Secretary of the BSG and is currently a member.

    Jane Falkingham is Professor of Demography and International Social Policy in the Division of Social Statistics at the University of Southampton, UK. She is a member of the BSG.

    Liam Foster is a doctoral student, in the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, UK, specializing in pensions and gender.

    Jay Ginn is a Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department at Surrey University, UK. She has researched and published widely on gender inequalities in pensions including two recent books (Ginn, 2003; Ginn et al., 2001). She has also researched older workers' attitudes to retirement timing. She contributes to the work of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), the Women's Budget Group, the Fawcett Society and the Independent Pensions Research Group.

    Jaber F. Gubrium is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is the editor of the Journal of Aging Studies.

    Sarah Harper is Director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing at the University of Oxford.

    James A. Holstein is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University, USA. He is editor of the journal Social Problems.

    Casey M. Miklowski is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA.

    Dr Marie Mills is both a practising psychotherapist and a researcher in the School of Psychology, University of Southampton, UK, with a background in residential and particularly dementia care practice.

    Richard Minns is an independent researcher on economic development and pensions with degrees in politics and economics, political science, and social administration, and is a Visiting Fellow at Sheffield University, UK.

    James Nazroo has qualifications in medicine and sociology, and is Professor of Medical Sociology in the International Institute for Society and Health, UCL, UK.

    Sheila Peace was trained as a human geographer and is Professor of Social Gerontology and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Health and Social Care at The Open University, UK. She is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the BSG and is co-editor of the second and third editions of the textbook Ageing in Society.

    Chris Phillipson was trained as a sociologist, is a Professor of Applied Social Studies and Social Gerontology at Keele University, UK, and is President of the British Society of Gerontology.

    Debora Price is a lecturer in the Social Policy of Ageing at the Institute of Gerontology, King's College London, having previously practised law as a barrister in London.

    Norella M. Putney has a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Southern California and teaches there in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

    Revd Prebendary Peter Speck trained in zoology and biochemistry before studying theology, has spent most of his ministry in health care chaplaincy, and is currently Visiting Fellow both at King's College London and the University of Southampton, UK.

    Christina Victor is Professor of Social Gerontology and Health Services Research and Head of the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Reading, UK.

    John A. Vincent was trained as a Social Anthropologist and is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Exeter, UK. He is the BSG publications officer.

    Alan Walker is Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology at the University of Sheffield, UK and Director of the UK New Dynamics of Ageing Programme and of the European Research Area in Ageing.

    Tony Warnes trained in human geography and economic history. He is Professor of Social Gerontology at the Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, UK. He was formerly Secretary (1984–90) and Chair (1994–2000) of the BSG, and is currently Editor of Ageing and Society, the CUP journal which the BSG co-sponsors with the Centre for Policy on Ageing.


    More people are living into old age than at any time in the past and this observation is true over much of the world. But old age is often seen as a problem. Many people are searching to find better ways of living a good old age. There are social movements striving to produce a more positive social attitude to old age and elderly people. Population ageing is seen as a major force transforming relationships at various levels - in the health and social care system, in the economy, and in society as a whole. As a result the future of old age has become an important and controversial issue in the contemporary world.

    The British Society of Gerontology (BSG) commissioned this book to provide a major assessment of the different changes involved in the future of old age and to reflect upon options for key areas affecting older people. The Society itself was founded in 1971 to provide a multidisciplinary forum for researchers and practitioners involved in the field of ageing. The strength of the BSG has been its commitment to working across a broad area of the social and behavioural sciences, together with the humanities, to further understanding of the possibilities as well as the challenges introduced by population ageing. This volume provides an illustration of this approach, drawing on essays from a broad array of disciplines, and from researchers who have made major contributions to the development of social gerontology.

    The book is an attempt to stand outside of immediate commercial and political pressures and to use the best of current research-informed insights to enable us to look into the futures of old age over the next generation. As well as illustrating a range of key issues arising from population ageing, this book also demonstrates the complexities of many of the questions involved, but at the same time the rewards that come from analysing both the options for social ageing as well as future scenarios. Social gerontology is currently a challenging and exciting endeavour and the purpose of this book is to provide readers with a grounding in the variety of current debates - theoretical and empirical as well as practitioner-based. The book should also be seen as demonstrating the value of expanding research into ageing, and bringing the full range of academic disciplines to explore what will be one of the critical issues for global society in the twenty-first century. The BSG is proud to be associated with this volume, is very grateful to its contributors, and hopes that it will provide a stimulus for further research and investigation in the years ahead.

    ChrisPhillipsonPresident, British Society of Gerontology


    Figure 4.1 is reproduced with the kind permission of The Open University Press/McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

    We thank the Institute of Fiscal Studies for permission to use their copyright material in Table 4.2.

    We acknowledge with thanks the use of Table 9.3 from P. Concialdi.

    Figure 15.1 is reproduced with the kind permission of the Open University Press/McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

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