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Figure 1--Total Numbers of Births and Deaths in Russia, 1959-1995 




Why is Italy becoming the oldest country on or planet? Click on this age pyramid to access the Census Bureau site for creating age pyramids.








| Introduction | Part I. | Part II.
| Part III. | Part IV. | Part V. |Part VI. |

Part I. Culture, Aging, and Context

| Newsflashes | Follow-up Newsflashes | New Center |
| Research to Follow | Web Specials | Web Resources |
| Print Resources |
wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASHWashington State Joins Oregon in Allowing Assisted Suicide.  In March 2009 Assisted Suicdie become legal in Washington State. Their new law is similar to the one in Oregon: it allows terminally ill patients who are 18 or older, and who have been found mentally competent, to self-administer lethal drugs under the prescription of a doctor. An opt-out provision for hospitals was included, partly for the sake of health care providers affiliated with religious groups like the Roman Catholic Church.    

NEW  An Aging World: 2001. The International section of the US Census Bureau has just updated its invaluable guide to the demography of aging.

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH
NEW   Dutch Legalize Assisted Suicide
The Dutch Parliament voted on Nov. 29, 2000 to allow doctors to help end the lives of seriously ill patients who have asked to die. The bill, which is expected to become law in 2001, would make the Netherlands the first country to legalize mercy killing and doctor-assisted suicide, practices that are already in wide use, though technically a crime.

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH: 
April 15, 1999. Following the airing of a video tape of his assisting in a suicide on the TV show "60 Minutes," Dr. Jack Kevorkian was again brought to trial and this time he was convicted and sentenced  to 10 to 25 years in prison.

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH
In the first year of its existence, under what is now the world's only assisted suicide law, 15 terminally ill people in Oregon used the statute to end their lives. In the February 18, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a report by Oregon Health officials indicated that fears of the law being used as an easy  way out by people afraid of financial ruin or extreme pain proved unfounded. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, where voluntary euthanasia has been decriminalized since 1984, a February 1999 report in the Journal of Medical Ethics indicated that 20 percent of assisted deaths were carried out without the patient's permission.

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH
On June 26, 1997 the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ruled that terminally ill persons do not have a constitutional right to a physician-assisted suicide. In doing so the court upheld laws in New York and Washington state (see introduction and chapter 3), making it illegal for doctors to give drugs to patients who want to speed up the end of their lives. 
The court later ruled in a related Florida case against a man dying of AIDS patient whose right to an assisted suicide were being claimed under that state's privacy rights granted in the Florida constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court Decision in the assisted suicide case of WASHINGTON et al. v. GLUCKSBERG et. al. Argued January 8, 1997 and Decided June 26, 1997.


In February of 1998, an Oregon panel which runs the state health plan voted overwhelmingly to spend tax money to pay for the doctor assisted suicides of terminally ill poor people. This issue had been left unaddressed when the nation's only "death with dignity" act was passed in 1994 and reaffirmed by 60% of the votes in 1997. The law applies to an adult of sound mind who has been given less than six months to live in the opinion of two doctors. However, physicians may not administer a lethal dose of medicine, they can only prescribe it. This new policy still must deal with Federal scrutiny as the US Congress in April 1997 passed a law which forbids Federal funds from being used to cover doctor-assisted suicide. In March of 1998, a women suffering from breast cancer was officially noted as the first person to make use of the law.

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH: Even before the fall of the Soviet Union male life expectancy in Russia was plummeting and it has only gotten worse. Find out the details in "Russia's Demographic "Crisis": How Real Is It?," by Julie DaVanzo and David Adamson: http://www.rand.org/publications/IP/IP162/

A follow-up to this report is found in a December 3, 2000, New York Times article by Michael Wines, "An Ailing Russia Lives a Tough Life That's Getting Shorter."

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH: "Population Implosion Worries a Graying Europe," Michael Specter New York Times July 10, 1998.

wpeE.gif (7659 bytes)NEWS FLASH: "Once Widowed in India, Twice Scorned," John F. Burns, New York Times March 29, 1998.

NEW CENTER:                     top of page

National Policy and Resource Center on Women and Aging. This new center at Brandies University seeks to focus national attention on the special problems of women as they age, to develop solutions and strategies for dealing with these problems, and to reach out to women and organizations across the country, promoting the changes necessary to improve older women's lives. Check it out at: www.heller.brandeis.edu/national/ind.html

RESEARCH TO FOLLOW:The work of Maria Cattell in chapter 4 provides an ethnographic window into the, day-to-day, life of older widows in rural Kenya. For a brief look at ongoing work among the Akan people of Ghanaclick on "Elderly people in Ghana: ongoing anthropological research," by Sjaak van der Geest. http://acs.tamu.edu/~yarak/GSC97Geest.html


NEW HOW BAD IS IT?  "Population ageing in developing societies: How urgent are the issues?" An April 2001 United Nations Report lays out the implications of population change over the next fifty years.

NEW OLDER WOMEN AND CULTURAL CONTEXT IN INDIA. In this article by Leela Gulati, "Population Ageing and Women in Kerala  State, India," the author shows how the situation in one of India's most prosperous regions alters the often negative context of older females in other parts of that nation. This is from: Asia-Pacific Population Journal Vol. 8 No. 1 (1993, pp. 53-63).

GENDER AND AGING. The International section of the US Census Bureau is a crucial resource for learning about the global dimension of population aging. Their web site now allows you to download and read many of their reports on particular countries at:   http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/publist.html see publications under International Briefs, Populations Trends and Aging Trends. A good follow-up to Chapter 1 by Kevin Kinsella in the Cultural Context of Aging text is the online, "International Brief: Gender and Aging," by Yvonne Gist and Victoria Velkoff, 1997.

GLOBAL IMAGE OF OLDER WOMEN. A classic article on older women in two Mediterranean societies can be read by 
clicking on the title: "The 'Scheming  Hag' and the 'Dear Old Thing,'" by Linda Cool and Justine 

WEB RESOURCES:        top of page

http://www.census.gov/ftp/pub/ipc/www/idbpyr.html BUILD A PYRAMID. This page from the census bureau actually allows you to obtain population pyramids (graphs that show the distribution of population by age and sex) for most countries of the world. For example select Mexico and you can get projected pyramids graphs for 1997, 2025, 2050.

http://pr.aoa.dhhs.gov/aoa/stats/profile/   A PROFILE OF OLDER AMERICANS: 2000. An excellent resource for students providing the most up-to-date data and charts on such things as living arrangements, marital status and ethnic composition and many other variables. 

http://www.popin.org/pop1998/8.htm  The United Nations Population Division has an informal short article about global aging trends from 1999-2050.

http://pr.aoa.dhhs.gov/aoa/stats/aging21/  AGING INTO THE 21ST CENTURY. This special report was prepared by noted demographer Jacob Siegel. It provides the latest projections on the future elderly population. Includes population, marital status, and household information as well as information about labor force participation, income, education, living arrangements, and life expectancy. Twenty statistical tables are included using a variety of the latest sources. This report was developed by AOA's National Aging Information Center.

www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/death-su.html INTERNATIONAL DATA ON SUICIDE OVER LIFE SPAN.

PRINT RESOURCES         top of page

Aguilar, M. 1999. "Female gerontocrats and headmistresses of tradition: pastoral disruption and cultural continuity in a pastoral town," in D.L. Hodgson (ed.), Rethinking Pastoralism: Gender, Culture and the Myth of the Patriarchal Pastoralist. London: James Currey. 

Aitken, L and G. Griffin, 1996. Gender Issues in Elder Abuse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Armstrong, M. Jocelyn. 1996. More of living: New Zealand women's perspectives on aging and old age. New Zealand Studies 6(2): 16-20.

Ashton, V. 1996. "A study of mutual support between black and white grandmothers and their adult grandchildren." Journal of Gerontological Social Work 26(1/2): 87-100.

Baltes, M. and L.L. Carstensen. 1996. "The Process of Successful Aging." Ageing & Society 16(4): 397-422. 

Baltes, P. and M. Baltes, eds. 1994. Successful Aging: Perspectives from the Behavioral Sciences (European Network on Longitudinal Studies on Individual Development, Vol 4) Cambridge, ENG: Cambridge University Press. 

Buckley, C.J. 1996. "Gender, age and the marriage market: evidence on marriage in late adulthood in Russia." Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 11(3):255-67. 

Dworkin, G., R Frey and S. Bok. 1998. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide. New York: Cambridge University Press. Two noted philosophers and a famous ethicist debate the pros and cons of legalizing physician assisted suicide.

Paoletti, I. 1998. Being an older woman: a study in the social production of identity. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Practicing Anthropology 20(2). 1998. Theme: "Anthropology and Applied Gerontology." M.B. Rodin & Madelyn Iris, eds.

Scott, P.A. 1997. Growing old in the early republic: spiritual, social, and economic issues, 1790-1830. NY: Garland.

Seale, C. 1998. Constructing Death: The Sociology of Dying and Bereavement. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Settersten, R.A. 1997. The salience of age in the lifecourse. Human Development 5: 1-23.

Webb, M. 1997. The good death: the new American search to reshape the end of life. NY: Bantam.

Ernick, M. and B. Hayslip Jr. 1996. "Custodial grandparenting: new roles for middle-aged and older adults." International Journal of Aging and Human Development 43(2): 135-5-4.

Dickerson-Putman, J. 1997. "Women, Age and Power Among the Bena Bena of the Eastern Highlands," Special Issue, Pacific Studies, Women, Age and Power, Summer.

Dodge, H.H. 1996. Poverty transitions among elderly widows. NY: Garland.

Furman, F. 1997. Facing the Mirror: Older Women and Beauty Shop Culture. New York: Routledge.

Huntington, G. 1996. "Age, Gender and Influence in Hutterite Colonies." Communities 90:24-27.

Komesaroff, P. Rothfield, J. Daly and P. Komersaroff. 1997. Reinterpreting Menopause: Cultural and Philosophical Issues. Routledge New York: Routledge.

Owen, M. 1996. A World of Widows. St. Martin Press.

Payne, K. 1995. Older Women in Development, London: HelpAge International. A study of older women in developing countries and their contribution to the process of development. Available free of charge from , 67 - 74 Saffron Hill, London EC1N 8QX, UK.

Siegenthaler, J. 1996. "Poverty Among Single Elderly Women Under Different Systems of Old-Age Security: A Comparative Review" Social Security Bulletin 59:3:31-43.

Simon, B. 1998. "Never Married Older Women and Disability: A Majority Experience." In M. Fine and A. Asch, eds. Women with Disability. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Spiro, T., et al., eds. 1996. Facing Death: Where Culture, Religion, and Medicine et. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Starr Sered, S. 1992. Women as Ritual Experts: The Religious Lives of Elderly Jewish Women in Jerusalem. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Wolf, R.S. 1996. "Elder Abuse and Family Violence: Testimony Presented before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging." Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect 8(1): 81-96.

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