Generation of Change, A

Generation of Change, A: A Profile of America's Older Population

Jacob S. Siegel
Murray Gendell
Sally L. Hoover
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 684
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610445030
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    Generation of Change, A
    Book Description:

    A Generation of Changeis an exceptional study of the nation's elderly, a population that has undergone profound changes in the years since World War II. As modern medicine extends the average life span and the baby boom generation begins to approach middle age, the number of older Americans is expected to more than double in the next century. Currently, 75 percent of U.S. health care expenditures go toward the elderly. But as national trends toward early retirement and low birthrate continue, an aging American population could face crises in meeting their financial and physical needs. According to Jacob S. Siegel inA Generation of Change, astute public planning must be informed by an understanding of the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the older population, as it is today and as it will be in the coming years.

    Siegel employs census and survey data from 1950 through the mid-1980s to describe a population constantly shifting in its ethnic and gender composition, geographic distribution, marital and living arrangements, health, employment, and economic status. Surprisingly, there is tremendous disparity in the quality of life among the elderly. Although their average poverty rate is below that of the general population, there are dramatic levels of poverty among older women, who are far more likely than men to live alone or in institutions. As the elderly progress from the "young old" to the "aged old"-those over 85-sharp differences emerge as income and employment decrease and degrees of chronic illness increase. In addition, residential location influences the quality of health care and public assistance available to the elderly, an effect that may account for the marked migration of older people to Florida and Arizona.

    Siegel analyzes the full range of characteristics for this heterogenous population and, through comparisons with other age groups as well as with the elderly of the previous decades, portrays the crucial influence of social and economic conditions over the life course on the quality of later life. With our elderly population growing more numerous and long lived, accurate information about them is increasingly essential.A Generation of Changewill serve as a valuable resource for policymakers seeking more effective solutions in critical areas such as housing, long-term health care, and the funding of Social Security and retirement programs.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-503-0
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Charles F. Westoff

    A Generation of Change: A Profile of America’s Older Generationis one of an ambitious series of volumes aimed at converting the vast statistical yield of the 1980 census into authoritative analyses of major changes and trends in American life. This series, “The Population of the United States in the 1980s,” represents an important episode in social science research and revives a long tradition of independent census analysis. First in 1930, and then again in 1950 and 1960, teams of social scientists worked with the U.S. Bureau of the Census to investigate significant social, economic, and demographic developments revealed by...

  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Jacob S. Siegel
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. List of Tables
    (pp. xxi-xxxiv)
  7. List of Figures
    (pp. xxxv-xxxvi)
  8. 1 BASIC DIMENSIONS OF AN AGING POPULATION
    (pp. 1-51)

    The character of the era since the end of World War II has been shaped greatly by the so-called baby boom: the 75 million births that occurred from mid 1945 to mid 1965.¹ The number born during the period exceeded the number born during the preceding two decades by 70 percent. As the birth group has moved up the age ladder, it has had a powerful influence on the institutions of our society, especially through the competition for resources between the age segments of the population and the special shape it has given to many of the issues facing our...

  9. 2 SEX, RACE, AND ETHNIC COMPOSITION
    (pp. 52-98)

    The two sexes and the various racial/ethnic groups in the population differ in their demographic, social, and economic characteristics in both early and later life and in the ways they deal with the major transitions in the life course, in their knowledge of English, and in their attitudes vis-à-vis having children, engaging in work and leisure, living with relatives, pursuing educational goals, remarrying, accepting public services, and so on. As a consequence, the sexes and the racial/ethnic groups differ in their need for and use of community services. In this chapter we consider the basic demographic differences between the groups...

  10. 3 GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION AND RESIDENTIAL MOBILITY
    (pp. 99-182)

    Elderly persons tend to be most numerous in the most populous states and in Florida. In 1985, California and New York, together with Florida, had the largest numbers of people aged 65 and over, with more than 2 million each (Table 3.1), followed by Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. Each of these five states also has over 1 million people aged 65 and over. Together these eight states account for 49 percent of the elderly population in the United States. This proportion is close to the proportion which the total population of these eight states, taken as a group,...

  11. 4 LONGEVITY
    (pp. 183-239)

    Progress in the control of the aging process from a demographic point of view has usually been measured in terms of the increase in longevity, as shown, for example, by increases in the proportion of the population surviving from birth to various ages or by gains in average years of remaining life. Progress is increasingly being measured, however, in terms of improvements in the health of the population, as shown, for example, by reductions in the incidence and prevalence of chronic illness or in the prevalence of disabling conditions and activity limitations.

    Gerontologists agree that a principal thrust of health...

  12. 5 HEALTH
    (pp. 240-299)

    This chapter is concerned with the health status of the elderly as measured by the extent of acute and chronic conditions and disability and the extent to which health services are utilized. The data presented are drawn principally from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).¹ This survey covers the civilian noninstitutional population, that is, the total resident population excluding the population in institutions and the military population. About 5 percent of the population aged 65 and over currently resides in institutions and less than 0.1 percent is in the...

  13. 6 MARITAL STATUS, LIVING ARRANGEMENTS, AND INSTITUTIONALIZATION
    (pp. 300-367)

    This chapter and the following ones are concerned with the principal social and economic characteristics of the older population, the variation in these characteristics over time and over the life cycle, and some implications of the changes and variations. In this chapter I consider the marital characteristics, living arrangements, and family support system of the elderly population. In the following chapters I consider their education, labor force participation, and retirement; their income and economic status; and, finally, their housing.

    With advancing age, shifts in the marital status of men and women follow the same general course, but they are much...

  14. 7 EDUCATION, WORK, AND RETIREMENT
    (pp. 368-459)

    This chapter deals with the education-work-retirement dimension of the life course and the demographic, social, and economic aspects of these activities in later life. Social trends of the past several decades suggest that the linear model for experiencing and representing education, work, and leisure in the life course needs substantial revision. In fact, pursuit of these activities in compact consecutive blocks of experience in the order named, corresponding to childhood and youth, adulthood, and old age, may no longer be the modal pattern. Changing individual needs as well as the demands of society are bringing about a reordering of the...

  15. 8 ECONOMIC STATUS
    (pp. 460-526)

    Although we are concerned primarily with the income of elderly individuals and elderly families (i.e., those with householders aged 65 and over), we also need to examine the income of younger individuals and families (i.e., those with householders at the preretirement and younger ages).¹ This will serve two purposes: first, to compare income in later life with income in earlier years and, second, to measure the evolution of income over the life course.

    The level of median income shows a characteristic pattern of variation with age in any year. Incomes are typically at a peak in the middle working years...

  16. 9 HOUSING CHARACTERISTICS
    (pp. 527-575)

    This chapter deals with the housing conditions of older persons and the changes in the housing conditions of people as they get older. It also deals with the relationship between the characteristics of older householders and their housing. Housing characteristics include the value, tenure, costs, and quality of the unit,¹ while householder characteristics include the age, race/Hispanic origin, income, type of residence, and region of residence of the householder, and the type of household.

    The analysis presented here will generally be based on 1980 census data and relate to housing units maintained by persons aged 65 and over. As noted...

  17. 10 SUMMARY, PROSPECTS, AND IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 576-600)

    The majority of elderly persons, especially of those aged 75 and over, are women. The characteristics of the elderly population, particularly the aged population, are mainly, therefore, the characteristics of elderly women, as are the health, social, and economic problems of the elderly. Elderly women have many problems that are usually more severe than those of elderly men or younger women. In large part because the elderly are mostly women, a disproportionate share of the elderly are widowed, live alone, are isolated, have low incomes or are poor, live in substandard housing, suffer from certain chronic, non-disabling diseases, and are...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 601-622)
  19. Name Index
    (pp. 623-628)
  20. Subject Index
    (pp. 629-647)