Age in Global Perspective
Physical and sociocultural environments have different effects on ‘how people experience aging and old age. In fact. concepts such as young and old may vary considerably from culture to culture. Unlike the sophisticated data-gathering techniques used to determine the number of older people in high-income and middle-income nations. we know less about the life expectancies and the aging populations in hunting and gathering, horticultural, pastoral, and agrarian societies. However, reaching the age of 30 or 40 is less likely for people in low-income (less-developed) nations than reaching the age of 70 or 80 in many high-income (developed) countries.
People in hunting and gathering societies are not able to accumulate a food surplus and must spend much of their time seeking food. They do not have permanent housing that protects them from the environment. In such soceties. younger people may be viewed as a valuable asset in hunting and gathering food, where as older people may be viewed as a liability because they typically move more slowly. are less agile. and may be perceived as being less productive.Although more people reach older ages in horticultural. pastoral. and agrarian societies. life is still
very hard for most people. It is possible to accumulate a surplus. so older individuals. particularly men. are often the most privileged in a society because they have the most wealth. power. and prestige. In agrariansocieties. farming makes it possible for more people to live to adulthood and to more-advanced years. In these societies. the proportion of older people living with other family members is extremely high. with few elderly living alone.
In recent years. a growing number of people are reaching age 60 and above in some middle- and lower income nations. Consider that India, for example. has about a billion people in its population. If only 5 percent of the population reaches age 60 or above. there will still be a significant increase in the number of older people in that country, Because so much of the world’s population resides in India and other low-income nations. the proportion of older people in these countries will increase dramatically during the twenty-first century.