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Aging and Cumulative Inequality: How Does Inequality Get Under the Skin?

Aging and Cumulative Inequality: How Does Inequality Get Under the Skin? Purpose: This article draws from cumulative disadvantage and life course theories to develop a new theory for the social scientific study of aging. Design and Methods: Five axioms of cumulative inequality (CI) theory are articulated to identify how life course trajectories are influenced by early and accumulated inequalities but can be modified by available resources, perceived trajectories, and human agency. Results: Although the concept of CI has attracted considerable attention among social scientists, it holds promise for integrating additional disciplinary approaches to the study of aging including, but not limited to, biology, epidemiology, and immunology. The applicability of CI theory to gerontology is illustrated in research on the early origins of adult health. Implications: Primary contributions of the theory to gerontology include greater attention to family lineage as a source of inequality; genes, gestation, and childhood as critical to early and enduring inequalities; the onset, duration, and magnitude of exposures to risk and opportunity; and constraints on generalizations arising from cohort-centric studies. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Gerontologist Oxford University Press

Aging and Cumulative Inequality: How Does Inequality Get Under the Skin?

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References (49)

Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org.
ISSN
0016-9013
eISSN
1758-5341
DOI
10.1093/geront/gnp034
pmid
19377044
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose: This article draws from cumulative disadvantage and life course theories to develop a new theory for the social scientific study of aging. Design and Methods: Five axioms of cumulative inequality (CI) theory are articulated to identify how life course trajectories are influenced by early and accumulated inequalities but can be modified by available resources, perceived trajectories, and human agency. Results: Although the concept of CI has attracted considerable attention among social scientists, it holds promise for integrating additional disciplinary approaches to the study of aging including, but not limited to, biology, epidemiology, and immunology. The applicability of CI theory to gerontology is illustrated in research on the early origins of adult health. Implications: Primary contributions of the theory to gerontology include greater attention to family lineage as a source of inequality; genes, gestation, and childhood as critical to early and enduring inequalities; the onset, duration, and magnitude of exposures to risk and opportunity; and constraints on generalizations arising from cohort-centric studies.

Journal

The GerontologistOxford University Press

Published: Apr 17, 2009

Keywords: Theory Cumulative disadvantage Life course Stress Psychosomatic processes

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