Ageing populations, already a well-established phenomenon in the countries of the North, are also a growing issue in the South. This demographic transition is, however, occurring in the South without the rising affluence which accompanied industrialisation in the North. This article examines a variety of dimensions of the problem in the South, including older people’s socio-economic and health situations, and their roles in family and community. It questions whether changes in the status of older people are due to modernising forces, or to structural inequalities (differences in wealth and social position) which exist in all societies, but are particularly prevalent in the poorer countries of the South.
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