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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume IV, Wellbeing in Later Life by Cary L. Cooper, Thomas B. L. Kirkwood

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8

Capability and Independency in Later Life

John Bond

Newcastle University, U.K.

Capability and Independency: The Context of Population Aging

Life expectancy is increasing at about 2 years per decade (Oeppen & Vaupel, 2002). Worldwide populations are aging as a result of falling rates of mortality in early and middle life and decreasing fertility rates (United Nations, 2009). In Europe and other economically developed areas of the globe the process started earlier than in recently developing nations, but there are significant differences between developed countries in population aging (Peace, Dittmann-Kohli, Westerhof, & Bond, 2007), the experience of aging, and policy responses to population aging (Walker, 2004).

The structure and roles of family and social networks are also changing with declining family sizes and later maternal age of first birth (Clarke, 1995). Coupled with this is the increasing geographical and social mobility within and between regions and countries (Warnes, 2006). The diversity of families in developed countries also reflects the role of inward migration from other parts of the globe over the last 60 years and the aging of people in black and ethnic minority groups (Nazroo, Bajekal, Blane, & Grewal, 2004). The decline of the local extended family and emergence of the bean-pole family (Bengston, Rosenthal, & Burton, 1990) throughout the developed world is reflected in the changing living arrangements and social networks of successive generations of older ...

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