Aging, Social and Cultural Perspectives

The dramatic increase in the number of persons age 65 and older affects all social institutions worldwide—families, the workplace, education, housing, and services. Older adults are more diverse than other age groups by gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and functional ability and often encounter ageism—disadvantage based on age. This entry describes the demography of aging in developing and developed countries, highlights the increasing cultural and racial diversity of older adults in the United States as reflected in their family and economic status, and briefly discusses the implications of these changes for education.

The demography of aging as a global phenomenon is one of the most striking changes of the 21st century, affecting almost every aspect of daily life. In 2002, older adults made up only 6% ...

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