The aging of the population of the United States is occurring at a time of major economic and social changes. These economic changes include consideration of increases in the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare and possible changes in benefit levels. Furthermore, changes in the social context in which older individuals and families function may well affect the nature of key social relationships and institutions that define the environment for older persons. Sociology offers a knowledge base, a number of useful analytic approaches and tools, and unique theoretical perspectives that can facilitate understanding of these demographic, economic, and social changes and, to the extent possible, their causes, consequences and implications.
New Directions in the Sociology of Aging evaluates the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology and sociology to the study of aging and identifies promising new research directions in these sub-fields. Included in this study are nine papers prepared by experts in sociology, demography, social genomics, public health, and other fields, that highlight the broad array of tools and perspectives that can provide the basis for further advancing the understanding of aging processes in ways that can inform policy. This report discusses the role of sociology in what is a wide-ranging and diverse field of study; a proposed three-dimensional conceptual model for studying social processes in aging over the life cycle; a review of existing databases, data needs and opportunities, primarily in the area of measurement of interhousehold and intergenerational transmission of resources, biomarkers and biosocial interactions; and a summary of roadblocks and bridges to transdisciplinary research that will affect the future directions of the field of sociology of aging.
This study was supported by the National Institute on Aging's Division of
Behavioral and Social Research through Contract N01-OD-4-2139, Task Order number
#259 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. Any opinions, findings, conclusion, or recommendations expressed in
this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views
of the organization or agencies that provided support for the project.
National Research Council. (2013). New Directions in the Sociology of Aging. Panel on New Directions in Social Demography, Social Epidemiology, and the Sociology of Aging. L.J. Waite and T.J. Plewes, Editors. Committee on Population, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing
Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of
the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the
Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were
chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights