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Aging and Social Policy

Debra Street

Subject Sociology of Health, Aging, and Medicine » Sociology of Aging

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


All developed countries have social policies designed to meet income, health, and social needs of older citizens. Most less-developed countries, too, have at least some public programs explicitly designed to serve elderly people. While the particulars of such policies differ from place to place, social policies for aging populations have in common collective national efforts to improve health and income security for older people. The scope and breadth of such social policies is an important influence on the overall well-being of each country's elderly citizens. From a sociological perspective, both country-specific and comparative social policy research have focused on understanding how different configurations of social policies create outcomes that minimize, reinforce, or exacerbate late-life inequalities arising from social class, race or ethnicity, and gender. Besides analyzing how these status categories influence inequality, sociologists also research and theorize how the interplay of institutionalized life courses and social policies contributes to age stratification. Before the development of the modern welfare state, older people depended on mainly informal mechanisms when age or frailty dictated withdrawal from employment or impeded the capacity to undertake daily activities. Wealthy elderly people had sufficient resources to obtain whatever help they needed to remain ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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