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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.

Inequality across Age Groups and Generations
Inequality across age groups and generations

STRUGGLING TO PAY HIS WAY through college, Dan works evenings parking cars at an exclusive and expensive country club near his college in Florida. Winter is the busiest time of the year because many retired members have come south to enjoy the warm weather. As he parks the Cadillac of another obviously wealthy retired couple, Dan begins to think about Social Security. To him, it seems like taking from the young and poor to help the old and well off. He works for $5.50 an hour and tips but pays about 40 cents of each hour's wage for Social Security. His employer pays another 40 cents—a total of about 15 percent of his earnings. ...

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