This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Demography of Aging Revisited

Yesterday I blogged about health disparities in the United States, referencing research by Jennifer Montez and Mark Hayward. The latter comes up again today, because he organized a workshop on the demography of aging for the National Academy of Science (NAS) from which the report has just been made available. Aging and health go together, of course. We wouldn't give nearly as much attention to aging as we do were it not for the fact that our health tends to deteriorate as we age. That is a personal problem, but one that our family and friends and, indeed, the entire society, winds up coping with. Our entire life course is very much influenced by health, as Mark Hayward makes clear in the introduction to the volume:
Changes in fertility, life expectancy, and population-age structure have had profound effects on the opportunities and constraints facing individuals, their families, and their communities. The older population has become more racially/ethnically diverse. Kin relationships have become more complex and fluid, and more people now approaching old age have been divorced and many have never been married. Population health now spans a web of health processes including biological risk, disability, cognition, and disease. The health and well-being of the older population are now seen as the consequences of long-run and cumulative effects of social, economic, and contextual factors over the entire life course.
The participants in the workshop, each with a chapter in this volume, are among the big names in the demography of aging, and this is a deliberate followup to a previous (1994) NAS report on the Demography of Aging. We know a lot more than we did then, thanks in part to the funding of research by the National Institute on Aging, and much of that learning tells us that the world is more complicated than we thought it was 24 years ago. This new volume dives into those complexities. Each chapter would be worthy of a blog post, but you should read it for yourself because if you are reading this you are aging, and you should know what lies ahead.

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