Canada's Aging Population. Toronto & Vancouver, Butterworth. 1986, 136 pages, $14.25, paperback.
Canada's Aging Population, the first part of Butterworth's series "Perspectives on Individual and Population Aging," is written by a Canadian professor of Sociology whose research and teaching experience includes demography, aging, gender roles, and medical sociology. It presents a comprehensive, yet concise analysis of the patterns, conceptual, and research approaches for studying this area, and policy and program implication of demographic aging in terms of its effect on diverse social institutions in Canada.
Hence, the scope of the topics covered in this monograph are such that each of its seven chapters would likely be of interest to professionals in the healthcare-social service fields, students majoring in gerontology, as well as for social planners and policy makers. For example. Chapter 1 explores the nature and causes of demographic aging, as well as a description of some illustrative approaches to its measurement and some key concepts therein, (eg dependency ratio, median age, dis ability- free life expectancy). Outlined in Chapter 2 are two specific conceptual and research approaches to population aging, ie the Descriptive approach (which ignores the social context), and three types of structural approaches, ie demographic determinism, crisis, and contextual approaches (the latter one being more emphasized than others in this book). For readers wanting to understand "Canada's place in world patterns of demographic aging" (p 29), Chapter 3 is helpful in that past trends, present realities, and future prospects are described in a way that indicates that "Canada is getting old" (p 43) and the importance for planning for that change.
For those who are interested in a concise overview of some of the most salient issues of population aging, Chapter 4 is superb. Some of the illustrative issues covered here pertain to: zero population growth, economic concerns, mobility and opportunity structure among the aged, and the diverse problems of women, particularly the economic problems faced by those whose only retirement income will be their old age pension allowance. Chapter 5, which covers some illustrative consequences of an aging society, contains information that would assist one to "learn how demographic information can be used to more completely develop policies and provide services" (p vii) that will allegedly meet the present and future needs of older Canadians.
Areas that are covered in some depth in this section are those of political economy (eg dependency, productivity, economic growth, as well as the increasing numbers of retirees and policy implications of volunteer work), health (provision, costs, and quality of life), housing, and education issues. The last two chapters focus on the future of demographic aging, emphasizing that since the dependency is "projected to reach an all-time historic low in 2011 or 2016, this period can be used at a time of transition, planning, and innovation" which in this case implies the need to shift economic and social resources to provide for the needs of the increasing numbers of the aging (versus the young). In summary, this paperback is excellent both in terms of its content and format in that only the essential concepts are presented, there are numerous charts and figures, each chapter contains a conclusion, and an 11-page bibliography is provided. It is strongly recommended for all gerontological nurses, particularly those who want to become knowledgeable of the current and predicted issues in individual and population aging and who wish to help mold effective changes.