Jared Diamond: Lessons from Hunter-Gatherers

Jared Diamond: Lessons from Hunter-Gatherers

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Jared Diamond studies how traditional societies around the world treat the aging members of their communities.


5 - 12+


Anthropology, Health, Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, Civics

NG Live

This video was filmed on January 8th, 2013 as part of the National Geographic Live! lecture series at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States.


National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Explorer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond studies how traditional societies around the world treat the aging members of their tribes. He suggests that these cultures have much to teach us about the treatment of our elderly in modern societies. Diamond's field experience includes 22 expeditions to New Guinea and neighboring islands to study the ecology and evolution of birds, the rediscovery of New Guinea's long-lost golden fronted bowerbird, and other field projects in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.


  • Traditional tribal societies and the opportunity they present for modern societies to learn from them (start-5:16 min.)

  • Overview of how tribal societies treat their elderly (5:17-6:19 min.)

  • Treatment of the elderly: the negative extreme (6:20-8:18 min.)

  • Treatment of the elderly: the positive extreme (8:19-9:19 min.)

  • Two reasons why treatment of the elderly differs: usefulness and a society's cultural values (9:20-9:33 min.)

  • Usefulness: what the elderly can contribute to society (9:34-12:06 min.)

  • Society's cultural values: impact (12:07-13:09 min.)

  • The low status of the elderly in the United States (13:10-13:57 min.)

  • How modern society has impacted the status of the elderly (13:58-16:24 min.)

  • How to improve the usefulness of the elderly in the U.S. and increase their cultural value (16:25-17:35 min.)

  • Conclusion: what we can learn about the treatment of the elderly from tribal societies (17:36-18:51 min.)


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Page Producers
Nina Page, National Geographic Society
Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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