Social Trends and Public Policy in an Aging Society

Authored by: Judith Treas , Twyla Hill

Handbook of Research on Adult Learning and Development

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  November  2008

Print ISBN: 9780805858198
eBook ISBN: 9780203887882
Adobe ISBN: 9781135597405


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Changes in American society will shape the context for social programs in coming decades. The changing composition of the U.S. population is altering the needs, capacities, and resources of Americans. Of particular importance is the aging of America and the policy challenges posed by a growing contingent of older adults. Besides demographic changes, economic and political developments are creating a new context for national policies on aging. Public policy is defined as governmental decisions and actions affecting a considerable number of persons (MacRae & Wilde, 1979), but private sector policies made possible by government action (or inaction) also impinge on individuals over the life course. While a comprehensive description of national aging policy is beyond the scope of this chapter, several excellent discussions are available (e.g., Binstock & Quadagno, 2001; Clark, Burkhauser, Moon, Quinn, & Smeeding, 2004; Meyer & Herd, 2001).

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