Author, Fred C. Pompel, treats age as a component of social inequality which gives rise to the three major themes of the text: diversity in the experience of individuals, differences in public policy, and variations across nations. Comparison of the United States with other nations is a central component of the book, providing a greater understanding of the larger forces that shape old age.

Class Differences before and during Old Age

Class differences before and during old age

HELEN AND HER HUSBAND lived modestly during most of her adult life. Located in a small town of about 1500 people in the rural Midwest, Helen taught elementary school and her husband was part owner of a small business. Because both had college degrees, they had better opportunities than most others in their community. Still, having grown up during the Depression, they worried about finances, spent carefully, and saved as much as they could. In their household, showers over a few minutes were not allowed because they wasted water, long-distance phone calls were too expensive except on holidays, aluminum foil and plastic bags were washed and reused, and the children had little ...

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