Lively questions for demographers about death at older ages
Population and Development Review, 35:2, 347–356 (2009)
This is an expanded version of comments on the future of the demography of aging at an invited session of the 2008 annual meeting of the Population Association of America. In an introduction, John Haaga offers reasons for a revival of interest in population aging, including greater realization of plasticity in aging trajectories at both individual and societal levels. Linda Martin proposes that population scientists working in aging emulate those studying fertility and family planning in previous decades, learning from interventions (in this case, aimed at increasing retirement savings and reducing disability at older ages). Changes in family structure will increasingly affect new cohorts of the elderly, and Linda Waite speculates on the ways in which changes in the economy, medicine, and the legal environment could affect the social context for aging. Research on mortality at older ages is "alive and well" asserts James Vaupel, who sets out six large questions on mortality trends and differentials over time and across species. Lastly, Wolfgang Lutz expands the scope of projections, showing the considerable uncertainty about the timing and pace of population aging in the developing world and the effects on future elderly of the increases in educational attainment in much of the world during the second half of the twentieth century.