Thanks to advances in technology, medicine, Social Security, and Medicare, old age for many Americans is characterized by comfortable retirement, good health, and fulfilling relationships. But there are also millions of people over 65 who struggle with poverty, chronic illness, unsafe housing, social isolation, and mistreatment by their caretakers. What accounts for these disparities among older adults?
Golden Years? Social Inequality in Later Life by Professor Deborah Carr draws insights from multiple disciplines to illuminate the complex ways socioeconomic status, race, and gender shape nearly every aspect of older adults’ lives. By focusing on an often-invisible group of vulnerable elders, Golden Years? reveals that disadvantages accumulate across the life course and can diminish the well-being of many. Carr cautions that rising economic inequality, the lingering impact of the Great Recession, and escalating rates of obesity and opioid addiction, among other factors, may contribute to even greater disparities between the haves and the have-nots in future cohorts of older adults. She concludes that policies, such as income supplements for the poorest older adults, expanded paid family leave, and universal health care could ameliorate or even reverse some disparities.
A comprehensive analysis of the causes and consequences of later-life inequalities, Golden Years? demonstrates the importance of increased awareness, strong public initiatives, and creative community-based programs in ensuring all Americans have an opportunity to age well.