This fully revised Second Edition of Other Cultures, Elder Years is not only the textbook on the anthropology of aging, but also the most comprehensive, comparative study available on worldwide patterns of ageing. `Provides an excellent summary of secondary sources, avoiding extensive review of primary research, complicated theory, and methodological issues' - Clinical Gerontologist



All societies value life and seek to prolong it even in old age. Although the statement is often made that “life is cheap” in non-Western societies, this is an ethnocentric assumption with very little evidence to back it up. The truth is that most societies see life as extremely precious, and the bulk of cultural practices are dedicated to survival and maintenance of human life. This is not to say that life will be protected at all costs. When environmental conditions are extreme (as in the Arctic), when life no longer seems worth the effort, or when people are suffering poor health, death is often chosen over life. Simmons (1945) found that abandonment of decrepit or ill elderly was practiced in 38 of the ...

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