Ageing is not a recent phenomenon. It goes back centuries, from time immemorial. The total human population, within any geographical area, is made up of children, youth, people of working age and the elderly. This latter grouping is a phenomenon not only in developed nations but also in many developing societies. For many Caribbean countries, this is also their reality. The factors that explain the “greying” of the world’s population are fertility decline, reduced mortality at ‘older ages’ and the external migration of the young, as well as the return of retirees. Those conditions, coupled with increases in life expectancies due to public health improvement and better water qualities, have significant consequences for population size and structure. Where the elderly population outgrows the younger, the population structure at younger ages is constricted and at older ages it expands (Rowland 2003, 98). This is an aspect of demographic transition which will change significantly in the 21st century.
This book for its research design used secondary data taken from a reputable statistical agency to examine socio-political, ecological and psychological factors and how they influence the wellbeing of elderly Jamaicans. The institution began collecting data to aid planning in the late 1980s when the institution collaborated with another, and adopted, with some modifications, the World Bank's Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) household surveys. The PLC has its focus of policy implications of government programmes, and so each year a different module is included with the aim of evaluating a particular programme. The PLC is a self-administered instrument (questionnaire) where respondents are asked to recall details of information on particular activities. The questionnaire covers demographic variables, health, immunization of children 0 to 59 months, education, daily expenses, non-food consumption expenditure, housing conditions, inventory of durable goods and social assistance. Interviewers are trained to collect the data, which is prepared by the household members. The survey is usually conducted between April and July annually.