Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: March 15, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939645 | Print ISBN: 9781412916080 | Online ISBN: 9781412939645| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this handbook
Chapter 75: The Sociology of Aging
ANDREA E. WILLSON
The sociology of aging The sociological study of aging is concerned with the social aspects of both individual aging and an aging society. The individual experience of aging depends on a variety of social factors, including public policies and programs, economic status, social support, and health status. The importance of the field, and much of the theory and research in this area, is either directly or indirectly influenced by a concern with population aging. Because of this importance, I begin with a discussion of the population dynamics within which research on the sociology of aging is situated. Growth in the size of the elderly population and increases in life expectancy have led to population aging, or an increase in the proportion of older people relative to younger people. Currently, those age 65 and over comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population. This is the fastest growing age group and, according ...