November 2013 Issue • Volume 41 • Issue 7

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Science Policy

The Future of the Sociology of Aging: An Agenda for Action

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The aging of the population of the United States is occurring at a time of major economic and social changes. These economic changes include consideration of increases in the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare and possible changes in benefit levels. Sociology offers a knowledge base, a number of useful analytic approaches and tools, unique theoretical perspectives that can facilitate understanding of these demographic, economic, and social changes, and, to the extent possible, their causes, consequences, and implications. The National Academy of Science publication The Future of the Sociology of Aging: An Agenda for Action evaluates the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology, and sociology to the study of aging and identifies promising new research directions in these sub-fields. Included in this study, authored by sociologist Linda J. Waite, are nine papers prepared by experts in sociology, demography, social genomics, public health, and other fields, that highlight the broad array of tools and perspectives that can provide the basis for further advancing the understanding of aging processes in ways that can inform policy. For more information, see

Census: Asians Fastest-Growing Race or Ethnic Group in 2012

In 2012, Asians became the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country, the Census Bureau reports. The United States’ Asian population grew by 530,000, or a 2.9 percent increase, to 18.9 million. Over 60 percent of the Asian population growth came from international migration. California had the largest Asian population of any state, with 6 million in July 2012, a 136,000 increase since the previous year. Hawaii is the only state with an Asian majority, with over 56 percent of the state’s population claiming Asian ancestry. Los Angeles county had the largest Asian population of any county in the United States., with 1.6 million. Honolulu County had the highest percentage of Asians, 60.9. In direct comparison, and the country’s largest minority group, Hispanics, grew by 2.2 percent, or by 1.1 million, to over 53 million. Hispanic population growth was largely supported by natural increase (births minus deaths), which accounted for 76 percent of Hispanic population growth. Hispanics account for 17 percent of the country’s population, and remain the second largest ethnic group (after non-Hispanic whites). “Asians and Hispanics have long been among our nation’s fastest-growing race or ethnic groups,” said Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau’s acting director. In total, the nation’s minority population increased by 1.9 percent, to 116 million, or 37 percent of nation’s 300 plus million citizens. A little over 11 percent (353) of the nation’s 3,142 counties were majority minority. In the last year, an additional six counties have become minority-majority counties. For more information, see

Toolkit for Community Conversations about Mental Health

SAMHSA designed The Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health as a resource to help those interested in holding a community dialogue about mental health. SAMHSA works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services. The Toolkit is composed of three parts that will help communities and groups plan and facilitate a dialogue about mental health. It provides data and other facts about the promotion of mental health, prevention of mental illness, and how to promote awareness, early identification, access to treatment, crisis response, and recovery supports. For more information, see


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