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Social and Biological Aging: Contradictions of Development

Massimo Livi-Bacci
Population and Development Review
Vol. 8, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 771-781
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972472
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972472
Page Count: 11
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Social and Biological Aging: Contradictions of Development
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Abstract

Whereas populations in developed societies live much longer than in the past, the phenomenon of social aging is occurring at younger ages: men and women may expect to spend an increasing number of years "liberated" from the two fundamental functions of parental responsibilities and work. Evidence from Western Europe shows that the mean age of parents at the last child's entry into adulthood has declined, along with the age at retirement. A simple procedure, applied here to census data for Italy for the period 1881-1981, permits the subdivision of the aggregate life cycle of a cohort into four categories of social functions: years spent working, both with and without dependent children, and years not working, with and without children. For men, years spent without dependent children and not working have gradually increased from an insignificant portion of the life cycle in 1881 to one-third the expectation of life at age 35 by 1981. For females, the increase in "totally liberated years" has been extraordinary. The paper concludes by positing potential responses to the economic and other consequences of social aging.

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