ABSTRACT

The basic theme of this chapter is that public policy with respect to the elderly has not been gender-neutral—either in the past or, more crucially, the present. First, such policies have been consistently framed in terms of the male life course and concerns, despite the rather obvious facts that the majority of elderly are women, and that whatever problems are associated with advanced age in our society are overwhelmingly experienced by women. Second, the policy initiatives of the Reagan administration are shaped by a hidden agenda based on the ideology of private rather than public provision of services and on a commitment to traditional gender roles.