Oct. 27, 1994
Vol. 14, No. 5

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    One of nine centers on aging established at University

    The Exploratory Center on Aging has been established at the University's Population Research Center as part of a national effort to improve demographic research on health, economics and aging.

    The center, one of nine established nationwide, will be directed by Linda Waite, Professor in Sociology. The nine centers have received a total of $2 million in first-year funding from the National Institute on Aging and have been approved for five years of support.

    The initiative will draw together researchers from the University, the National Opinion Research Center and other institutions to explore new approaches to the study of aging as well as ways of making data on aging more accessible.

    "Many of the Exploratory Center projects will grow out of cooperation and exchange among scholars from varied disciplines," Waite said. "This kind of cooperation is a hallmark of the University of Chicago."

    Among the topics to be explored at the Chicago center are the historical economics of aging, intergenerational transfers (the help and support to family members from either a younger or an older generation), health and disability, retirement, minority issues related to aging, and the biodemography of aging. Biodemography, a relatively new approach to the study of aging, is the study of the impact of advances in lifesaving medical technologies on the life span.

    Researchers at the center will also help coordinate a more effective use of large amounts of data from national surveys on health, retirement and long-term care.

    "With these programs in place, we will learn a great deal more about the aging of the population, including life expectancy, the impact of chronic diseases, use of medical services and long-term care, and costs of aging-related illnesses," said Richard Suzman, chief of demography and population epidemiology at the National Institute on Aging.

    It is expected that the centers will become important resources for policy-makers, Suzman said. Research results will be shared with government agencies, members of Congress and other policy-makers. The centers will distribute analyses through scholarly papers as well as through computer on-line services.

    Faculty members associated with the center at Chicago include Christine Cassel, Professor in Medicine and in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; Robert Fogel, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor in the Graduate School of Business; William Parish, Professor in Sociology; Ross Stolzenberg, Professor in Sociology; Marta Tienda, the Ralph Lewis Professor and Chairman of Sociology; and Robert Townsend, the Charles E. Merriam Professor in Economics.