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Productive Aging

, 344 pages

6 line drawings

March 2001



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Productive Aging

Concepts and Challenges

"Will 69 million baby boomers suddenly drop out of the workforce when they turn 65? It is difficult to imagine this generation, with its talent, education, and experience, idling away the last thirty years of life."—From the Foreword, by Robert N. Butler, M.D., The Mount Sinai Medical Center

Old age has been historically thought of as a period of frailty and dependence, yet studies show that with the help of advances in health and medicine, current populations will live longer and remain healthier than previous generations. As average life expectancies rise, traditional concepts of retirement need to be reconsidered on all levels—from government policy to business practice to individual life planning. In this volume, leaders in the field of gerontology explore these changing conditions through the concept of "productive aging," which has been developed by leaders in the field to promote older adults' contributions to society in social and economic capacities.

Productive Aging: Concepts and Challenges treats the implications of productive aging for the discipline of gerontology and for society in general. The first section defines the principles, historical perspectives, and conceptual frameworks for productive aging. The second section takes a disciplinary approach, treating the biomedical, psychological, sociological, and economic implications of a more capable older generation. The third section considers advances in theories of gerontology, and the fourth section suggests future directions in practice, theory, and research.

Contributors: W. Andrew Achenbaum, University of Houston • Scott A. Bass, University of Maryland-Baltimore • Vern L. Bengtson, University of Southern California • James E. Birren, UCLA • Francis G. Caro, University of Massachusetts Boston • Carroll L. Estes, University of California-San Francisco • Marc Freedman, Civic Ventures (co-founder of Experience Corps) • James Hinterlong, Washington University • James S. Jackson, University of Michigan • Jane L. Mahakian, Pacific Senior Services • Harry R. Moody, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation • Nancy Morrow-Howell, Washington University • Philip Rozario, Washington University • James H. Schulz, Brandeis University • Michael Sherraden, Washington University • Alvar Svanborg, University of Illinois-Chicago and Goteburg University, Sweden • Brent A. Taylor, San Diego State University

Nancy Morrow-Howell is an associate professor and chair of the Ph.D. program at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. She is the principal investigator for several studies on productivity in later life and on the use of community services and mental health services for older adults. James Hinterlong is a research associate at the Center for Social Development and serves on the public policy committee for the St. Louis Alzheimer's Association and on the Curriculum Development Committee and Project Research Team of the national OASIS Health Stages program. Michael Sherraden is the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University and founding director of the Center for Social Development.

"This book will find most of its audience among the social gerontologists, but can be read by practitioners with merit. The concepts here are presented in such a clear and logical manner, that as bibliographic essays they could stand alone. There is more here, however, and many trainees could be stimulated by this excellent work to creative thinking. The editing here is outstanding."

"Offers a systematic definitive account of the concept of productive ageing. Its scope is ambitious but it succeeds admirably."

"An important initiative that should receive widespread support."

" Productive Aging assembles essays from some of the preeminent scholars currently writing in social gerontology. The editors have done a wonderful job of organizing the chapters into sections and providing appropriate overviews. This volume will appeal to professionals interested in productivity, workforce issues, alternative contributions, and the elderly as contributors to social well-being."


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