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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.

Race, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Old Age
Race, ethnic, and gender differences in old age

HAVING EACH LIVED MORE THAN 100 YEARS, Sadie and Bessie Delany could look back on their lives with both pride and wonder. Born in 1889 and 1891, Sadie and Bessie grew up in North Carolina, where they suffered from the “Jim Crow” laws that segregated the races and treated blacks as second-class citizens. Their father had been born a slave but was freed at age 7 when the Civil War ended, managed to obtain schooling, and became a minister and vice principal of a local college. The sisters moved as adults to the Harlem area of New York City, where Sadie became the first black person to teach domestic science ...

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