Intergenerational Solidarity in European Welfare States
Edited by Chiara Saraceno
Chapter 1: The Book-ends: Emerging Perspectives on Children and Old People
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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