Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations

By James S. Frideres | Go to book overview

7.
ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND PATTERNS OF RETIREMENT

Richard A. Wannerand P. Lynn McDonald

The aging population of Canada is clearly not a culturally homogeneous one. Unlike the United States, in which a "melting-pot" image of the cultural assimilation of ethnic groups prevails, Canada has consistently encouraged multiculturalism and ethnic diversity as official governmental policy. Indeed, in 1981 11 percent of the Canadian population over age sixty-five spoke a language other than English or French at home ( Health and Welfare Canada, 1983). In a multicultural society such as Canada there is little disagreement among social gerontologists that the impact of ethnic variation on aging is significant ( Gerber, 1983; Marshall, 1980). There is also general acknowledgment that Canada is stratified not only along such dimensions as income, education, and occupation, but also according to ethnicity ( Porter, 1965; Valee, Schwartz, and Darknell, 1968; Lautard and Loree, 1984) such that different groups have different status and differential access to social and economic resources. Porter ( 1965) labeled the system of stratification in Canadian society a "vertical mosaic" to emphasize that not only are there various forms of inequality in Canada, but that inequality is influenced by ethnic-group

This chapter is a revised version of a paper presented at the annual scientific and educational meeting of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, Vancouver, November 1984. Funding for this research was provided by a leave fellowship to Richard Wanner from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and an operating grant to P. Lynn McDonald from the Research Policy and Grants Committee of the University of Calgary.

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