During the 1990s, a number of elements emerged in the growing debate about the nature of an ageing society. Central to the idea of a critical gerontology is the idea of ageing as a socially constructed event. In respect of political economy, this is seen to reflect the role of elements such as the state and economy in influencing the experience of ageing. The emergence of critical perspectives has certainly been influential in a number of debates in the field of educational gerontology. The disciplines are, it might be argued, facing difficult problems at the present time, and part of the task must be to provide some broader assessment which might give appropriate clues as to the best way to develop future perspectives. The steady growth in the proportion of older people in the population was, up until the beginning of the 1980s, contained within the dual institutions of retirement and the welfare state.