Families, Ageing and Social Policy

Families, Ageing and Social Policy

Intergenerational Solidarity in European Welfare States

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Chiara Saraceno

This important book offers valuable insights into the way in which social policies and welfare state arrangements interact with family and gender models. It presents the most up-to-date research in the field, based on a variety of national and comparative sources and using different theoretical and methodological approaches. The authors address different forms of support (care, financial, emotional) and employ a bi-directional perspective, exploring both giving and receiving across generations. They illustrate that understanding how generations interact in families helps to reformulate the way issues of intergenerational equity are discussed when addressing the redistributive impact of the welfare state through pensions and health services.

Chapter 1: The Book-ends: Emerging Perspectives on Children and Old People

Gunhild O. Hagestad

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, sociology and sociological theory, welfare states


Gunhild O. Hagestad THE FOCUS OF THE CHAPTER The title of this volume contains three key terms: families, ageing and social policy. In this chapter I hope to touch on all of them through an exploration of similarities and connections between the book-end generations – the young and the old. The chapter is a work in progress, presented in order to encourage new perspectives and questions. Ageing is considered at three levels: individual, family and population. Both within families and at a societal level, my focus is on shifts in age structures and what they mean for old and young. I suggest that there are a number of reasons why the book-ends need to be considered together and be seen within interdependent age groups and interconnected chains of intergenerational relationships. Under the heading of social policy, I discuss some questions and issues that are raised by a joint focus on the book-ends, paying attention to the interaction between demographic shifts and wider social change. In particular, there is a whole host of research and policy issues at the intersection of micro and macro levels that call for interdisciplinary explorations. I suggest that before we can seriously address some of these challenging issues, institutional age segregation in political structures, as well as in the organisation of research communities, must be overcome and new cross-disciplinary alliances must be forged. A brief note on concepts and terms is needed. In the research literature, three distinct concepts have been assigned the term ‘generation’. First, we...

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