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Type Journal Article - Anthropology & Aging
Title Modernization, Aging and Coresidence of Older Persons: the Sri Lankan Experience
Volume 35
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 1-26
URL http://anthro-age.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/anthro-age/article/viewFile/35/84
Sri Lanka is experiencing dramatic changes in its socio-cultural landscape following the
implementation of development and modernization programs. The development of tourism,
employment in the Middle East and in the private sector in industries such as textiles , have
increased work opportunities for women in particular, leading to changes in family structures, in
residential patterns and in intergenerational support systems. Modernization and development
have led to higher levels of social differentiation, which have had a great impact on older people,
their residential patterns and their status and role within their families and communities.
Sri Lanka has been aging faster than any other nation in South Asia with an annual
average increase of 3.3% in the population aged 60 and above between 1981 and 2001 (Siddhisena
2005). Sri Lanka’s elderly population of 60 years and older has increased from 11.8% in 2009 to
12.5% in 2013 (United Nations 20091 and 20132
).According to the World Bank,3 the population
aged 65 and above in Sri Lanka was 8.41% of the total in 2011. As measured by the Department of
Census and Statistics of Sri Lanka, in 2001, 8.9% of the population was aged 60 years and above
(Gunasekera 2001), and this had increased to 12.3% in 2012 (Census and Statistics 20124
Population projections show that, by 2030, the proportion of the population aged 60 years and
above is expected to increase to 21.5% (Siddhisena 2005). The population born between the 1950s
and 1971-the baby boom in Sri Lanka- has contributed to the present as well as the projected
increase in the elderly population. The achievements in economic, health and social development
have contributed to higher survival rates among the elderly population in Sri Lanka.
The literature on aging in Sri Lanka that describes its socio-cultural implications often
paints a gloomy picture with reference to the care of the elderly, the erosion of traditional homebased
family care, inter-generational problems arising from aging (Amarabandu 2004), the lack of
social security coverage, the reduced effectiveness of traditional family support systems for old
people, and the disempowerment of old people in relation to family and community matters.
Because of poverty, the elderly are often forced to work late in their lives (World Bank 2008).
Often those negative developments are regarded as consequences of modernization.

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