Perspectives on the Future of the Sociology of Aging
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The population of the United States is growing inexorably older. With birth rates historically low and life expectancy continuing to rise, the age distribution of the population in the United States is growing steadily older. This demographic shift is occurring at a time of major economic and social changes, which have important implications for the growing elderly population. Other changes, such as the move away from defined-benefit toward defined-contribution retirement plans, changes in some corporate and municipal pension plans as a result of market pressures, and the 2008 financial crisis precipitated by the crash of the housing market, all have economic implications for older people. They are also likely to make it more difficult for certain groups of future retirees to find their retirements at the level that they had planned and would like.

To deal effectively with the challenges created by population aging, it is vital to first understand these demographic, economic, and social changes and, to the extent possible, their causes, consequences, and implications. Sociology offers a knowledge base, a number of useful analytic approaches and tools, and unique theoretical perspectives that can be important aids to this task.

The Panel on New Directions in Social Demography, Social Epidemiology, and the Sociology of Aging was established in August 2010 under the auspices of the Committee on Population of the National Research Council to prepare a report that evaluates the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology, and sociology to the study of aging and seeks to identify promising new research in these fields. Perspectives on the Future of the Sociology of Aging provides candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the final published volume as sound as possible and to ensure that the volume meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge.

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240 pages | 6 x 9
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National Research Council. Perspectives on the Future of the Sociology of Aging. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.

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