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date: 09 August 2020

Aging Societies and the Ethical Challenges of Long Life 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Psychology and Aging
Allison R. HeidAllison R. Heid, Steven H. ZaritSteven H. Zarit

Ethical principles of respect, gratitude, and obligation to care for older adults have been part of the fabric of human culture dating back to the Old Testament commandment to honor one’s father and mother. Dramatic changes in the population over the past 100 years, however, have altered relationships of families and older people’s place in the economic and social life in society. Central among these changes has been increased life expectancy and decreasing birth rates. As a result, there are far more older people in the population than ever before, and they constitute a larger proportion of the total population. The aging of the population has both heightened old issues of responsibility for parents and given rise to new questions of how economic, social, and family resources should be divided across generations. This article examines ethics, equity, and social justice related to these issues, as well as the perceived and actual burdens of population aging on family and society. Throughout the article, positive benefits of long life are highlighted, including the potential for older people to continue to make contributions to their families and society (... ...

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