Vulnerability in old age: The issue of dependency in American society

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The American focus on the importance of self-sufficiency and independence stands in contrast to the economic trends of recent decades that have led to an increased number of adults standing outside the productive core of economic activity. This "burden of dependency" has been manufactured by public policies designed to reconstitute the labor force and redistribute the burden of unemployment largely through the growth in retirement. Recently the success of income maintenance programs developed to improve the financial accessibility of retirement for older workers has begun to undercut the legitimacy of their status as dependents. This article examines that role of dependency, and argues that the social processes that produce dependency among our elders are not substantively different from the processes that affect younger age groups. Consequently the questions of distributive justice that are involved in the dependency of the elderly are questions that relate to members of all age groups who occupy positions of disadvantage in the economic structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-320
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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