Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 3 » Productive Aging - Definition, Some Controversy, Variables That Influence Productive Aging, Policy Considerations

Productive Aging - Variables That Influence Productive Aging

social genetic individual policy social participation

There are at least four distinct categories of variables that influence the productive engagement of older people: environmental variables, situational variables, individual variables, and social policy (Bass and Czso, 2001). The environmental variables that influence individual productive participation include the general state of the economy, the norms within a distinct culture or subculture, larger world events (such as war), political developments, demographic changes, and cohort membership. These variables are largely outside the control of the individual, but, in some respects, they can be influenced by social policy. It is less likely, for example, for an older person to find employment in an economic recession than in a time of low unemployment.

Situational variables include prescribed roles, obligations and responsibilities, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, organizational circumstances, traditions, community context, and health. For the most part, an individual has little choice over situational variables; they are part of the individual's milieu. The way in which these circumstances are configured, however, can create either constraints or opportunities for productive aging.

Individual variables are those that are most frequently discussed when examining productive outcomes. These variables include motivation, drive, creativity, attitude, aptitude, habits, gender, race, ethnicity, physical features, and genetic profile. While there is often room for adjustment of individual variables, some variables are inherited and cannot be changed. Individualized variables can influence one's interest in productive participation.

Finally, and perhaps least considered in its influence, is social policy. Social policy determines government and employer policies, pension policy, organizational rules, taxation regulations, priorities, and public and private programs.

Impingement from any one of these four categories can limit the extent to which a person chooses to participate in a productive aging activity. Alternatively, an incentive or encouragement from any of these variables, particularly from social policy, can encourage greater participation. It is here where economists, policymakers, and planners have begun to consider ways in which policies can remove barriers and provide incentives to encourage those who choose to participate in some form of productive activity.

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