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The Myth of Old Age: Addressing the Issue of Dependency and Contribution in Old Age Using Empirical Examples From the United Kingdom

Jeroen Spijker and Anna Schneider
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Jeroen Spijker: Centre d’Estudis Demogrà fics, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Anna Schneider: Edinburgh Napier University, UK

Sociological Research Online, 2021, vol. 26, issue 2, 343-359

Abstract: In academia, policy-making and the media, population ageing often has negative connotations: it is associated with a rising care burden on society, with dependency, and with a fear of social isolation. The concepts pertaining to old age have evolved over time, and some of them challenge criticize this popular perception. This article begins with an overview of the development of social attitudes towards old age. Then, with the help of publicly available UK data, it addresses three areas in which old age and population ageing is perceived as problematic: poor health, dependency on other people’s productivity, and the role older adults play in the care cycle. Due to the diversity of the population aged 65+, we question the necessity of distinguishing older people in terms of age or dependency and instead recommend more research into the heterogeneity of the older population.

Keywords: attitudes; care-giving; health; life stages; old age; social roles; volunteering (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/1360780420937737

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