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Some Demographic Consequences of Revising the Definition of “Old Age” to Reflect Future Changes in Life Table Probabilities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2010

Frank T. Denton
Affiliation:
McMaster University
Byron G. Spencer*
Affiliation:
McMaster University
*
Requests for offprints should be sent to:/Les demandes de tirés-a-part doivent être adressées à : Byron G. Spencer, Ph.D., Director, QSEP Research Institute, Kenneth Taylor Hall, Room 426, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4M4. (spencer@mcmaster.ca)

Abstract

Sixty-five has long been used to define the beginning of “old age”. Yet it is clear that the definition is arbitrary, and with continuing reductions in mortality and morbidity rates it will become increasingly inappropriate as time passes. We consider how the definition might be modified to reflect changes in life table probabilities, and how the future numbers and proportions in “old age” would be affected. In a similar manner, we consider also the redefinition of the “oldest old” from a current definition of 85 and over.

Résumé

Depuis longtemps l'âge de 65 ans sert à définir le début de la « vieillesse ». Il est pourtant évident que cette définition est arbitraire et qu'avec la baisse continuelle des taux de mortalité et de morbidité elle va devenir de moins en moins appropriée. On se penche sur la façon dont pourrait être modifiée cette définition afin de refléter les changements dans les probabilités basées sur la table de survie, et sur la façon dont seraient affectés les proportions et nombres futurs dans la catégorie «vieillesse». De même, on se penche sur la redéfinition des « grands vieillards » à partir de la définition actuelle de 85 ans et plus.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2002

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Footnotes

*The work reported in this paper was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Computational assistance was provided by Christine Feaver. We are grateful to the editor and three anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier version.

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