On constructing ageing rural populations: 'Capturing' the grey nomad
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The world’s population is ageing, with forecasts predicting this ageing is likely to be particularly severe in the rural areas of more developed countries. These forecasts are developed from nationally aggregated census and survey data and assume spatial homogeneity in ageing. They also draw on narrow understandings of older people and construct the potential impact of ageing (such as increased dependence on the health care system) as negative. The construction and reinforcement of such stereotypes have obscured public policy debate about ageing and also the rural. This paper considered how, through using a mixed method approach, narrow understandings of rural ageing could be extended and refined. Using a case study of grey nomads in rural Australia, the strengths and weaknesses of various research approaches were reviewed. The investigation concluded that both quantitative and qualitative data could be used to extend contemporary understandings of rural population ageing and move constructions of this phenomenon beyond an impending rural crisis.
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