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Topic: Demographic Structure Of Society

The aging process is seen to begin from the moment we are born to the moment we die. There are several theories that can be used to view aging.

Life-course theory views aging as changes in social, psychological and biological processes with time. Age stratification theory looks at age as a way of regulating behaviors of generation and activities. Activity theory examines the way roles and jobs change with age and the loss of social interactions at work needs to be replaced in older age to maintain well being.

When examining society we group age groups into cohorts and demographics. A cohort is a group of people in a certain age group or generation that has similar life experiences. These groups are often given a designation as a generation based on their common experiences.

There are three generations who are primarily active in today’s workforce; Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y—with Generation Z just beginning to enter the workforce.

  • Baby Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers have been working the longest and have extensive knowledge and experience. They want and oftentimes expect others to value their input and opinions. Baby Boomers believe that hard work equates to long hours and that integrity in the workforce should be top priority.
  • Generation X: born between 1965 and 1981. Generation X has been through a roller-coaster of economic events. Downturns and upswings have impacted their career choices, career successes, and career futures. Unlike the Baby Boomers, Generation X has a more “work to live” mentality and value their life outside of the workplace. While they have a good work ethic, their work-life balance is of highest importance to them.
  • Generation Y: born between 1982 and 1997. Generation Y, also known as Millennials, are the youngest members of the current workforce. Generation Y typically grew up with two working parents and a to-do list constantly on display throughout their childhood. Because of this, Generation Y has the ability to multitask and also values work-life balance.
  • Generation Z: born between 1997 and today. Generation Z has never known a world before technology. They have grown up in an “always on” world where technology is readily available and used on a regular basis. Technology has been utilized as a babysitter by many parents of this generation and it is also present in the classroom. This constant access to technology makes Generation Z extremely tech savvy but has also changed behavior and lifestyle. Whether or not these behavioral and lifestyle changes will carry on into their adulthood is yet to be determined. Generation Z is starting to enter into the workforce with the oldest members turning 22-years-old in 2019.

In general, age demographic groups make up different percentages of the population. In the US as health care provision has improved and life expectancy has increased people are living for longer. Changing proportions of populations means a change in dependency of the old on the young. In general, older people are reliant on younger generations for financial support. At the age of 65 people generally retire and leave the workforce and are no longer economically active, instead of relying on a pension for financial security. The dependency ratio measures how many people who are not part of the workforce are dependent on the current workforce. An aging population is resulting in an increase in the dependent populations of industrialized nations and a greater burden on the workforce. Some solutions to this have been to increase the retirement age and also to increase the number of nursing homes to care for the elderly.

With increased life expectancy there will be a demand for better health care and also age-friendly services to enable older people. With a change in approaches to industry and the elderly, elderly members of society can be economically active for longer.


Practice Questions

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MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Practice Exam 2 P/S Section Passage 2 Question 8

Practice Exam 3 P/S Section Passage 8 Question 43


Key Points

• Age is a biological, psychological and social process that changes over time from the moment we are born to the moment we die.

• Demographics of age are a sector or group of the population that are grouped based on common experiences or times of birth

• As a population ages and the number of elderly increases, society needs to adapt to take care of them and meet the economical needs and changes of this increased demographic

Key Terms

Cohort: a group of people.

Demographic: a particular sector of a population.

Dependency ratio: a mathematical comparison of the number of people aged less than 14 and above 65 who are not part of the labor force compared to those aged 15-64 who are part of the workforce.

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