Ageing in the light of crises: Economic crisis, demographic change, and the search for meaning. Welfare Studies Working Paper Nr. 12

Marja Aartsen, Daniel Béland, Ricca Edmondson, Jay Ginn, Kathrin Komp, Magnus Nilsson, Jolanta Perek-Bialas, Penny Sorensen, Bernhard Weicht

Research output: Working paper


Old age has many images, with the one of a crisis regaining momentum. While images of activity and opportunity gained ground during recent decades, this trend now seems to reverse. The current economic crisis drains the financial resources of older people, which increases old age poverty. Moreover, governments react to the double-pressure of economic crises and population ageing through budget cuts, which reduces support systems for older people. It, moreover, centers public discourses more strongly on social problems associated with old age. Both developments underline the needs associated with old age and draw our attention away from the potentials of old age. In other words, they bring discussions on old age back to the topic of crises. This working paper discusses how the economic crisis affects older people, how governments, labour markets, and families react to the double-pressure of population ageing and economic crisis, and how individuals perceive their old age. It concludes with reflections on the implications of growing crisis-centrism in discussions on old age. Such crisis-centrism can lead us to overlook social inequalities in old age and to neglect the subjective character of the perception of old age. The public image of old age might, thus, be stronger associated with the idea of crisis than what older people’s lived experience suggests.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUmea
PublisherDepartment of Sociology, Umea University
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • care arrangements
  • construction of meaning
  • demographic change
  • economic crisis
  • gender
  • labour market
  • old age
  • social inequalities
  • social policy
  • urban-rural split

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