International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy
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International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

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.
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Chapter 21: Introduction to Parts V and VI: policy and practitioner responses to the challenges of population ageing

Jaco Hoffman


While individual nations are at different stages in the demographic transition, the overall trend is clear: population ageing is a global phenomenon. As population demographics shift, policy changes are needed to support ageing, e.g. provision of services, appropriate opportunities and the necessary resources. The economic and social impact of increased longevity and lower fertility oblige relevant policy attention and practical adaptations and adjustments on both the societal and familial level. The argument is that appropriate adaptations or adjustments to a dated set of demographic conditions have the potential to ‘transform’ (or at least manage) the challenges of population ageing into some net gains towards the general well-being of the human condition across all ages. A broad review of the report Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge (UNFPA and HelpAge International, 2012) indicates that at least 57 countries had approved and published national policies, plans, programmes or strategies on ageing and/or older people since the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing at The Second World Assembly on Ageing, convened in Madrid, Spain in 2002. Awaiting approval, ten have pending drafts or proposals for such policies. Despite the lack of evidence for a policy, plan, programme or strategy, indications for the inclusion of specific articles on older people, old age or ageing within their national constitution was found for 11 countries.

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