Table of Contents

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.

Chapter 34: Microfinance, cooperatives and time banks: community-provided welfare

Ed Collom

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, health policy and economics


Grassroots activists have become increasingly creative in building solutions to contemporary social problems. Many of these issues stem from the shortcomings of two dominant social institutions – the state and the economy. Citizens in post-industrial societies have struggled to maintain an adequate standard of living as poverty, unemployment and underemployment are persistent and growing problems under global capitalism. Demographic changes and the resulting aging of our societies add further challenges to economic well-being. In this chapter, three examples of community-provided welfare are explored and assessed in relation to aging and demographic changes. As Zack de la Rocha (1999) rapped in a Rage Against the Machine song at the eve of the new millennium, ‘Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long.’ People have become less reliant upon mainstream social institutions and are creating local alternatives to complement or counter the capitalist economy and state. Microfinance, cooperatives and time banks are all examples of communities engaging in do-it-yourself (DIY) efforts to increase access to resources. In addition to the objectives of economic empowerment, such localism usually aims to build social capital.

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