Sociology Index


Gerontocracy is the rule by elders. A society in which power, wealth and prestige flow upwards within an age pyramid. Gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule. Gerontocracy is also common in most democracies. Parliament members are disproportionately old, and have positions of power within the parliament.

The Coming Gerontocracy: Social and Ethical Ramifications 
Leah L. Curtin, DSc(n), RN, FAAN, University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and Health 
Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, Vol. 5, No. 3, 196-204 (2004)
Today we face an aging population, increasing poverty among younger generations, massive federal budget deficits, and a burgeoning array of entitlement programs for the old, programs that are paid for by the young.

For more than 2 decades, some of America’s best minds have been working on solutions to the coming crises in Social Security and Medicare. However, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Gerontocracy Revisited: Unilateral Transfer to the Young may Benefit the Middle-Aged 
PANU POUTVAARA, University of Helsinki - Department of Economics; Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER); Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR); CESifo.

Abstract: It has been argued that in the absence of altruism, intergenerational transfers can survive only if the old are net recipients. I prove that this need not hold in an over-lapping generations model with a fixed factor. For example, the middle-aged owning land may gain by providing public education even when they cannot tax the young. This requires that labor is not mobile.

Gerontocracy in Motion? - European Cross-Country Evidence on the Labor Market Consequences of Population Ageing 
MICHAEL FERTIG, CHRISTOPH M. SCHMIDT, Rheinisch-Westf�lisches Institut f�r Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI Essen); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) 
Abstract: Taking a European cross-country perspective, this paper addresses the most important issues in the nexus of population ageing and labor markets. We start from a descriptive overview of the demographic change currently shaping European societies. The subsequent section intensively discusses the potential consequences of these demographic processes for and interdependencies with the labor market situation in Europe. We place particular emphasis on the issue of non-competitive wage setting.

Gerontocracy, Retirement, and Social Security - Casey Mulligan and Xavier Sala-i-Martin
Abstract: Why are the old politically successful? We build a simple interest group model in which political pressure is time-intensive, showing that in the political competitive equilibrium each group lobbies for government policies that lower their own value of time but that - because of their shorter horizons - the old do so to a greater extent and as a result are net gainers from the political process. The model has a variety of implications for the design of social security programs, which we test using data from the Social Security Administration. The model also predicts that the social security programs with retirement incentives are larger and that the old spend more time in political activities, implications which we verify using cross-country government finance data, cross-country political participation surveys, and U.S. time diary data.

Origins of gerontocracy, Eisele FR.- Gerontologist. 1979 Aug;19(4):403-7.

Aging Empire: North Carolina's Gerontocracy - N.N. Fullwood
Published In: John Locke Foundation Policy Report, July 1, 2000
Abstract: Senios are a potent political force for various government services. Yet they can better help themselves by supporting privatized, decrentralized service delivery.