Gender and Social Class Inequalities in Active Ageing: Policy meets Theory

Active ageing, defined by the WHO as the “process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age”, crucially depends on opportunities and resources that are available to individuals throughout their life course. Therefore, some population groups face higher barriers than others in benefiting from gains in ‘active ageing’. In particular, research evidence is accumulating on the contribution of gender and social class divides to limiting one’s potential for opportunities in old age. 

The project aims to take a critical look at existing evaluations of active ageing policies and extend them with a view to gender and social class differences, a perspective largely neglected in the EU’s policy discourse on active ageing and ageing research to date. 

Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, the project will build on a comprehensive review of the theoretical thinking on inequalities in old age, to provide an extended framework for analysis, incorporating but going beyond the principles basing the Active Ageing Index. A combination of conventional active ageing indicators (e.g. social participation in old age) and life-course indicators (e.g. previous unemployment experiences) will be used to analyse differences in the experience of ageing for men and women, and for different socio-economic groups. This empirical analysis and four in-depth European case studies, will complement the theoretical framework, leading to the formulation of policy recommendations to address inequalities in active ageing, with reference to current cohorts of older people, as well as to future cohorts.

Ministry of Health and Social Affairs - Sweden