Demography of Aging Essay

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The demography of aging began to emerge as a distinct subfield within demography during the second half of the twentieth century, when low fertility and mortality rates were creating dramatic shifts in the age structure of developed countries.

Early in this field’s development, demography of aging researchers were focused on defining old age and aging, documenting changes in the age structure, identifying mortality trends, describing the health status of older adults, explaining the geographical distribution and mobility of older adults, understanding the life course and cohort flow, and exploring living arrangements, family support, and retirement trends. More recently demographers have become increasingly concerned with population aging as it relates to social transfer programs, social institutions such as the economy and the family, and the overall quality of life for different age groups (e.g., children, working-aged adults, older adults).

Formal demographers, who are focused on understanding demographic trends related to fertility, mortality, and migration, and social demographers, who examine the social causes and consequences of demographic trends, use quantitative methods to understand population aging. Formal demographers tend to document worldwide trends in population aging and national changes in mortality, morbidity, disability, and geographical distribution.

Social demographers examine a range of issues related to population aging including the potential demand placed on health care systems, the impact of changing family structure on care provision, the economic implications of an aging population, and the motivations for residential mobility. In doing so, researchers in the demography of aging provide a justification for studying older adults, identify the social causes of aging, and consider the various consequences of shifting population age structure.


  1. Preston, S. & Martin, L. (eds.) (1994) Demography of Aging. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
  2. Wilmoth, J. & Longino, Jr., C. (2007) Demographic perspectives on aging. In: Wilmoth, J. and Ferraro, K. (eds.), Gerontology: Perspectives and Issues, 3rd edn. Springer, New York, pp. 35-56.

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