Social and economic resources
Social support and care provision, sociology, economics, care science, philosophy and ethics.
Italian National Institute on Ageing (Giovanni Lamura and Fiorella Marcellini).
About the workstream
Across Europe, recent research on the social and economic resources in the field of ageing has emphasised their critical influence on health, well being and quality of life. This work also identified a series of gaps to be overcome in order to improve well-being and quality of life in older age. These are areas with strategic significance that require more focused EU-wide research:
The importance of financial resources to quality of life in old age is well established, but the connections between income and wealth and health status and well-being (physical and mental) have hardly been explored. The SHARE project has made an important start on this work and its data sets will be a key point of reference for future European research in this area.
Another emerging area is how to strengthen support to working family carers. The overlapping of family and professional responsibility in the employed population, especially women in mature age, represents a crucial challenge in the light of current EU-policy goals of increasing older workers´ and female employment rates.
The societal impact of migration is also in need of further research to examine two different phenomena: the support to migrated older people, and; the care provided to older people by migrant workers. The core issue is how to improve the national health care systems´ ability to properly respond to the needs of citizens with culturally different background.
The provision of quality care in residential settings also deserves more attention. In the light of the increased focus of national and European policies on community care services, one might argue that by now even the idea of providing institutional care should be considered as obsolete. However, until our ageing societies are able to grant individualised and regionally diffused home care across Europe, the need to ensure decent living conditions to older people in residential care should remain high on the political and scientific agenda, in order to remove and prevent current and future risks of neglect and abuse in these communities.
The phenomenon of elder abuse and neglect represents however a problem not limited to those institutionalised, but potentially concerning the older population in its entirety, and especially its most vulnerable members. Due to the lack of detailed and targeted information on both prevalence and prevailing forms of abuse and neglect in older age it seems reasonable to suggest that this topic urgently deserves attention.
Finally, it is important to embed the above mentioned research gaps into a systematic approach to strengthen intergenerational solidarity and fight ageist attitudes frequently observed across Europe. Therefore it is essential to increase and properly disseminate scientifically grounded, comparative knowledge on the contribution provided by older people to society. This is urgent given the observation that the translation and implementation of existing research into both public debate and everyday practice has been so far insufficient to grant European citizens an acceptable quality of life in older age.
Workshops and reports
Social & Economic Resources workshop 1 - Ancona, Italy, 25th-26th February 2010
Social & Economic Resources workshop 2 - Ancona, Italy, 7th-9th July 2010