Sociology Index


Gerontocracy is the rule by elders. In Gerontocracy, power, wealth and prestige flow upwards within an age pyramid. In gerontocracy, parliament members are disproportionately old, and have positions of power within the parliament. Like gerontocracy we also have infantocracy or rule by infants and paedocracy or rule by children. Gerontocracy is obvious in American politics. Gerontocracy is a likely outcome whenever leaders rule for life. Gerontocracy is a form of oligarchy. Gerontocracy is also common in a democracy.

Many cultures believe gerontocracy is ideal, and political power within the ruling class accumulates with age. The ancient Greeks also believed in the idea of gerontocracy. According to Plato, "it is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit". Gerontocracy is also common in theocratic states. Aristotle used the term theocracy as a synonym for rule by the wealthy, but for which the appropriate term is plutocracy.

Gerontocracy Revisited: Unilateral Transfer to the Young may Benefit the Middle-Aged - PANU POUTVAARA, University of Helsinki - Department of Economics; Helsinki Center of Economic Research; Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR); CESifo. Abstract: It has been argued that in the absence of altruism, intergenerational transfers can survive only if the old are net recipients. The middle-aged owning land may gain by providing public education even when they cannot tax the young. This requires that labor is not mobile.

The Coming Gerontocracy: Social and Ethical Ramifications 
Leah L. Curtin, University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and Health Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice.
Today we face an aging population, increasing poverty among younger generations, massive federal budget deficits, and a burgeoning array of entitlement programs for the old, programs that are paid for by the young.For more than 2 decades, some of America's best minds have been working on solutions to the coming crises in Social Security and Medicare.

Strategic gerontocracy: why nondemocratic systems produce older leaders
Raul Magni Berton, Sophie Panel. Abstract: One characteristic of nondemocratic regimes is that leaders cannot be removed from office by legal means: in most authoritarian regimes, no institutional way of dismissing incompetent rulers is available, and overthrowing them is costly. Anticipating this, people who have a say in the selection of the leader are likely to resort to alternative strategies to limit his tenure.

We examine empirically the “strategic gerontocracy” hypothesis: Because selecting aging leaders is a convenient way of reducing their expected time in office, gerontocracy will become a likely outcome whenever leaders are expected to rule for life. The finding suggests that gerontocracy is a consequence of the choice process, since it disappears when dictators self-select into leadership positions.

Gerontocracy in Motion? - European Cross-Country Evidence on the Labor Market Consequences of Population Ageing, MICHAEL FERTIG, CHRISTOPH M. SCHMIDT. Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI Essen); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Centre for Economic Policy Research. Abstract: Taking a European cross-country perspective, this paper addresses the most important issues in the nexus of population ageing and labor markets.

Gerontocracy, Retirement, and Social Security - Casey Mulligan and Xavier Sala-i-Martin. Abstract: Why are the old politically successful? We build a simple interest group model in which political pressure is time-intensive, showing that in the political competitive equilibrium each group lobbies for government policies that lower their own value of time but that, because of their shorter horizons, the old do so to a greater extent and as a result are net gainers from the political process.

Origins of gerontocracy, Eisele FR.- Gerontologist. 1979 Aug;19(4):403-7.

Aging Empire: North Carolina's Gerontocracy - N.N. Fullwood.
Abstract: Senios are a potent political force for various government services. Yet they can better help themselves by supporting privatized, decrentralized service delivery.