Aging and Demographic Change in Canadian Context


288 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-8020-8505-9
DDC 305.26'0971




Edited by David Cheal
Reviewed by Jeffrey Moon

Jeffrey Moon is head of the Documents Reference/Data Centre at Queen’s


The seven essays in this volume, which is part of the Trends Project
series of the Canadian government’s Policy Research Initiative,
identify a range of economic and demographic challenges facing Canadian
society and strive to defuse generally held alarmist views surrounding
these issues.

In his introduction, David Cheal outlines six main “demographic
concerns”: public pensions, health care, personal care, economic
output, a narrowing support base, and intergenerational inequalities.
The rest of the book addresses these concerns from various perspectives,
such as productivity, leisure time, and support systems. The essays draw
on academic research, census and survey resources, government documents,
and data from other agencies (such as the OECD and the National Advisory
Council on Aging). The contributors take a distinctly anti-apocalyptic
approach, both in their interpretation of the data and in their
presentation of policy alternatives and recommendations.

A repeated theme in the book is that of “mandatory retirement,”
which several authors address compellingly. For example, Douglas Thorpe
looks at the “culture of youth and utility,” citing such diverse
sources as Sir William Osler and the Supreme Court of Canada to debunk
the “aging equals decline” equation. Given the political spotlight
on this issue of late, its treatment in this book is particularly

Each essay is followed by an often-extensive notes section, and the
book concludes with a 41–page bibliography. An index would have been
helpful, particularly for finding common themes across essays. The book
is a well-written and useful addition to the raging aging debate. It
seeks to calm exaggerated fears and to focus attention on further
research and informed policy-making.


“Aging and Demographic Change in Canadian Context,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,