[en] Population aging is a phenomenon not restricted to Western societies but observed the world over. Currently, according to estimates by the United Nations, 727 million persons are aged 65 years or older worldwide, and by 2050 these numbers will have increased to over 1.5 billion, so that by
midcentury one in six persons will be 65 years or older (UN, 2020). Interestingly, while some European countries (such as Germany and Italy) and Japan were among the first to take note of their aging population, large increases in the share of older people in their populations are expected for many other countries around the globe in the coming years, especially in Eastern and Southeastern Asia (UN, 2020). Population aging is thus clearly a global trend, although high variability still exists regarding life expectancies and living conditions.
What is not yet fully understood is how experiences of aging are similar or differ across cultures, as aging research draws still mostly on findings from North American and Western European cultures (Fung, 2013). Many societies are not only becoming older but also more culturally diverse, and at the same time, globalization is bringing people from different cultural contexts closer to formerly lesser-known realities. The need is therefore increasing to determine the universals of aging across cultures and societies and to explain culture-specific differences (Albert
& Tesch-Römer, 2019). The focus on developmental tasks prevalent in most cultural contexts could shed light on the different ways people use to tackle specific challenges in older age according to the sociocultural contexts in their living environment (Fung & Jiang, 2016). Different
developmental pathways could thus channel development over the whole lifespan, and culturally formed experiences could accumulate until later life (Greenfield et al., 2003; Valsiner, 1996).
That is the starting point of the present special issue on the nexus of aging and culture. Central questions are: How is subjective well-being regulated within the context of cultural diversity? How are care and assistance negotiated in non-Western contexts and how can the notion of culture be conceptualized and applied empirically?
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