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McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Ageing Societies: A Comparative Introduction / Edition 1

Ageing Societies: A Comparative Introduction / Edition 1

by Virpi Timonen, Timonen VirpiVirpi Timonen


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"This introductory text is a sound, basic overview. It is well structured, and easily accessible both to lay persons, who may have little knowledge or experience of social gerontology, as well as to students who may seek to explore and develop insights further, within what is a relatively recent intellectual tradition."

Chrisine Atwell, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK

Ageing Societies: A Comparative Introduction provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of ageing, highlighting the inter-connections between health, economic and social aspects of ageing. Virpi Timonen’s book is written in a lively and accessible style and will be particularly valuable for undergraduates and students on professional courses. “

Sara Arber, University of Surrey, UK

"Timonen does an excellent job of explaining both very basic concepts and complex aspects, thus making this book accessible to a broad range of readers. There are only very few exceptions where this is neglected. Overall, therefore, this is a very balanced approach to an important and vast subject area that manages to balance a social critique that calls us to address and adapt ageing socially, politically and economically, with an optimistic view of the achievements and opportunities that these developments bring with them."


University of Leicester

"It is very refreshing to read a book which achieves the delicate balance between celebrating age and ageing without losing the message that there are distinct biological, psychological and social challenges for older people in all societies ... The volume is well written in a jargon-free, lively and accessible style, and any necessary acronyms and technical vocabulary are fully explained to the reader ...I have no doubt that the book will be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in fields such as gerontology, social policy, social work, sociology, nursing, as well as professionals and practitioners who work with older people. Timonen provides a clear, well-organised, wide-ranging and comprehensible introduction to the complex and highly topical subject of ageing and its global and social diversity."


Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender,

University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

  • What is ageing?
  • Why is ageing important and how can we understand it better?
  • How does policy and practice in relation to ageing populations differ across the globe?

This book aims to convince readers that ageing is not boring, threatening or depressing, but that it has enormous relevance for the young and the old alike. Virpi Timonen provides an engaging introduction to the central social, economic and political aspects and impacts of ageing and makes the case for the importance of analysing ageing from a number of different perspectives. Using comparative international data, the author provides a detailed description of the process of population ageing, including increasing longevity, changes in fertility and variations in the health status of older populations.

In addition, the book sets out the social context and background of ageing, discussing related and relevant developments, such as:

  • Changes in family structures
  • Patterns of household formation
  • Women’s labour market participation
  • Income and work in older age
  • Health and social care of older people
  • Attitudes towards older people

The book highlights the nature of ageing as an individual and societal experience. The author succeeds in arguing that whilst ageing is becoming an increasingly widespread and global experience, age-related policies, practices and consequently the actual lived experience of ageing differ greatly between countries and regions of the world.

Ageing Societies is of interest and use to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in fields such as gerontology, social policy, social work, sociology, nursing, as well as professionals and practitioners in the eldercare sectors and general readers from a wide variety of backgrounds who wish to gain an understanding of the complex and highly topical subject of ageing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780335222698
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Virpi Timonen is Director of the Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre (SPARC) at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. She holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford and has previously been employed at the University of Turku, Finland.

Table of Contents

List of figures, tables and boxes vi

Preface ix

Acknowledgements xii

Part 1 Social contexts of ageing 1

1 The importance of understanding ageing 3

2 Demography 101: why do populations age? 13

3 Changing family structures and inter-generational solidarity 28

Part 2 Health, income and work in later life 45

4 Health in later life 47

5 Pensions and employment: providing security in old age? 63

6 Population ageing: an excessive burden or a manageable challenge? 88

Part 3 Care of older persons 107

7 Care services for older people I: informal and formal 109

8 Care services for older people II: community and institutional care 136

Part 4 New behaviours, new demands, new challenges 151

9 Exercising power and challenging attitudes 153

10 Conclusion: what will the 'silver century' look like? 163

References 180

Index 197

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