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Cultural problems of ageing especially regarding gender and intergenerational equity


  • Henrard, J. C.


The absence of old age as a specific social group in some cultures raises the question of ageing as a cultural construction. In this paper we will consider only problems of cultural ageing in industrial Western society and especially in some OECD countries. There, demographic changes have been characterised by ageing of populations, visible since the fifties, by feminization of later life and modifications of social network. Ageing of population including the oldest generations have made definitions of later life more politicised and have gone together with new attitudes towards ageing and elderly people giving rise to different patterns of ageism. Examination of incomes, health status, social support of the elderly shows that until today there have been persistent inequalities related to age, gender and social class in terms of resources, access to informal and formal care and value accorded to later life. These inequalities are due to differences in status and resources of elderly and trajectories of ageing, always conditioned by social locations: position in labour market and in domestic division of labour with resulting social relations. The differences vary also between countries according to their welfare regime and their social policy. In the future, the proportion of those over 65 of age and among them of those over 80 will be greater raises the questions of health status of the oldest generations, income distribution among generations and genders, of access to informal and formal care and adequacy of the later for the frail elderly. To cope with those issues ageing and later life should be considered in a life-span perspective. Better sharing of jobs and of economic wealth, development of meaningful activities other than work may be solutions to answer to the questions addressed by an ageing population and the problems of later life.

Suggested Citation

  • Henrard, J. C., 1996. "Cultural problems of ageing especially regarding gender and intergenerational equity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 667-680, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:43:y:1996:i:5:p:667-680

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Eran Shor & David Roelfs & Misty Curreli & Lynn Clemow & Matthew Burg & Joseph Schwartz, 2012. "Widowhood and Mortality: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(2), pages 575-606, May.
    2. Portrait, France & Teeuwiszen, Erica & Deeg, Dorly, 2011. "Early life undernutrition and chronic diseases at older ages: The effects of the Dutch famine on cardiovascular diseases and diabetes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(5), pages 711-718, September.
    3. Shor, Eran & Roelfs, David J. & Bugyi, Paul & Schwartz, Joseph E., 2012. "Meta-analysis of marital dissolution and mortality: Reevaluating the intersection of gender and age," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 46-59.
    4. Manzoli, Lamberto & Villari, Paolo & M Pirone, Giovanni & Boccia, Antonio, 2007. "Marital status and mortality in the elderly: A systematic review and meta-analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 77-94, January.


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