Too often when we consider the attitudes and activities of older people we assume they are living in an age-specific demographic. Whilst this might suit those marketing lifestyle villages to the over 55s it is a total impediment to constructive debate when it comes to social policy. A recent report from the European Centre, Intergenerational Solidarity: Policy challenges and Societal Responses, discusses policy practices to enhance intergenerational solidarity.
Authored by Asghar Zaidi, Katrin Gasior and Alexandre Sidorenko, the policy brief considers the need to ensure future generations – both young and old – have the same or greater access to social rewards as their counterparts in the current generation. This report makes fascinating reading, comparing attitudes across 27 EU countries on how intergenerational solidarity is really faring. It notes that social sustainability needs to include not just adequate pensions, but also access to affordable health care and social services. It concludes that creating an awareness of the importance of positive relationships between the generations, which recognises both their diversity and their potential complementarity, will allow for the most satisfactory public policy strategies and results – and avoid perverse ‘competition’ for limited resources.