Sociology of Aging
Fall 2012, Class 4
I. Global Variation in Population Aging
Review: demographic transition
Classic idea: Shift from high fertility/high mortality to low fertility/low mortality.
In Western Europe and North America, demographers initially predicted that the trend would be quite
manageable—they foresaw a gradual and nearly concurrent decrease in both mortality and fertility. Many people
expected that the proportion of people 65+ would not exceed 20%.
Events didn’t go entirely as anticipated in the Western world.
a. Fertility rates fall below replacement level
b. Life expectancy increases
c. Populations still often change in a “post-transition” phase
d. Populations are not uniform
Outside of the developed West, the course of events was even less predictable.
Key point: The pace of population aging varies significantly between developed Western nations and the
Life expectancy at birth, England, 1541-1991
Years required for population aged 65+ to double from 7% to 14% of total population
Life expectancy and GDP: www.bit.ly/cVMWJ4
Data incorporated from Sarah Harper, Ageing Societies, 2006, London: Hodder Education, pg. 39
2 Ibid, pg. 6. Nations with 10% or 20% of their population age 65+ (past and projected)
II. Two p