What it means to be old is among the most pressing questions of our time. International organizations describe population aging as one of the most significant social transformations of this century with potentially dire effects. Yet there has been debate over measurements of population aging since it first became a topic of concern in the 1930s. Since then, the British state has established collective markers of old age such as retirement and residential care, but individuals experienced aging before, after, and independently of these apparent parameters of late life. Older people raised their voices in diverse fields of twentieth-century life and they spoke with particular authority at midcentury. In so doing, older Britons asked to be understood through the course of their own lives.
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