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Aging, Demography of

Charles F. Longino, Jr. and Janet Wilmoth


Demography is the scientific study of human populations. Its origins are as old as those of science. The demography of aging, on the other hand, did not begin to emerge as a distinct subfield until the second half of the twentieth century, when low fertility and mortality rates were creating dramatic shifts in the age structure of developed countries. In 1980, Jacob Siegel devoted his presidential address to the Population Association of America to the topic of demography of aging, which he declared “brings demographers to focus holistically on a population group, the elderly, and a demographic process, aging” (1980: 345). At that point, researchers in this area were in the early stages of defining old age and aging, documenting changes in the age structure, identifying mortality trends, describing the health status of older adults, explaining the geographical distribution and mobility of older adults, understanding the life course and cohort flow, and exploring living arrangements, family support, and retirement trends ( Siegel 1980 ). Since that time demographers have become increasingly concerned with population aging as it relates to social transfer programs, social institutions such as the economy and the family, and the overall quality of life for different age groups (e.g., children, working-aged adults, older adults) ( Preston & Martin 1994 ). Both formal demographers ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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