Health Inequalities in Aging Populations: Canadian Contributions
RC11 Sociology of Aging
Language: English and French
The extension in high-income countries of systems of income support and access to health care for large, if not all segments of the elderly population undoubtedly counts as one of major successes of public policy over the past century (OECD 2013). It is perhaps not surprising then to note that today’s elderly find themselves in much better health than their parents and grandparents did in their older age (Crimmins et al., 2004). Indeed, relative to the past, older populations in developed countries have improved functioning and are afflicted with less disability on average (Wolf et al., 2005); however, these improvements may not have been equally gained across the elderly population(Taylor, 2008). Indeed, the body of literature regarding health inequalities among the elderly is growing, as the assumption that the older population is a rather homogeneous group in this regard is increasingly discarded (Grundy and Holt, 2001).
This notably raises the question of the current capacity of social policies to mitigate health inequalities among the elderly. As such, we propose here to review sociological theories that are most germane to health inequalities in older ages in developed countries, with an eye to their capacity to illuminate processes of social inequality driven by social policies. Then, we will critically examine the explicit intent and implicit capacity of current social policies to mitigate these inequalities among the elderly population. This invited session will focus on Canadian contributions in this area.
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