Aging in Alberta: Rhetoric and Reality. 2nd ed.


139 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55059-135-5
DDC 305.26'097123




Reviewed by James S. Frideres

James S. Frideres is associate dean (research) of the Faculty of Social
Sciences at the University of Calgary and the author of Native People in
Canada: Contemporary Conflicts and A World of Communities.


The central thesis of this book is that Canada is not facing an
aging-population problem. Whatever problem exists, the author argues, is
a socially constructed one. His examination of aging in Alberta includes
discussions of trends in life expectancies, marital status, and age-sex
ratios; the social epidemiology of aging; and the utilization of
health-care services and income security programs by the elderly.

While Northcott does not disagree that the population is aging, he does
challenge the view—which has been uncritically accepted by such
stakeholders as politicians, health-care specialists, and
planners—that the trend constitutes a crisis. Using data from numerous
surveys and government databases, he finds that most seniors are
productive members of society who have little need for health or social

His well-written and carefully researched book challenges policymakers
and practitioners to reconsider their assumptions about Canada’s aging


Northcott, Herbert C., “Aging in Alberta: Rhetoric and Reality. 2nd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,