The Lenghtening of the Life-Cycle appears more and more to be a decisive, even revolutionary event of our times. It is spreading worldwide and it concerns the economic development as well as society at large.
The European Papers on the New Welfare are dedicated to better understand this phenomenon and to stimulate discussion on adequate solutions, in particular with reference to the ‘counter-ageing society’, the ‘rejuvenation’ (svecchiamento) of the elder and their active participation in and contribution to the every day life. Let us point out a few key reference points:
• The number of people aged 60 and over is increasing worldwide. According to the UN, by 2050 their number could reach almost two billion people, or over 20% of the world population. This projection is very easy to test since these people are all already born — as are already born the ever increasing numbers of centenarians who will celebrate the year 2100.
• It is true that very old people have always existed in the past centuries: but they were a very tiny minority. Today this is a mass phenomenon concerning the large majority of the population.
• In the early twentieth century, something similar happened at the level of the economy: the diffusion of mass consumption. Destitute people, with inadequate food supply, have since tended to become a minority, first in the industrialized countries and now in the developing ones. Since then the economic crises of the Industrial Revolution, which once were linked in most cases to deflation, have been since linked to inflation. A sign of the Industrial Revolution turning into a Service Economy.
• In fact the ‘elder’ are not becoming ‘older’: it is easy to verify today that those around 80 years of age have in the average the capabilities of those around 60 over one century ago. We are in a counter-ageing society. And there are large possibilities of improvement.
• At the origin of all this: the scientific and techological advances and their impact on the economy, on health, on communication and hence on the educational opportunities. The lenghtening of the life cycle is at the crossroad and the result of a multitude of disciplines and activities: hence the open horizon of this publication.
• We count in fact on the contribution of a number of specialists, but at the same time, it is important to confront different avenues of thought and experiences. Our concern is to better understand the whole issues confronting the ‘counter-ageing society’. This is why, in this number of the European Papers, we have also added a section on DOCUMENTS, publishing information which is not original, but too often limited to a specific audience, whereas their content has much wider implications.
This issue is divided in different sections: General Policy, Science and Health, Insurance, Employment and Social Issues, Cultural ISSUES and documents.
In the General Policy Section, James Capretta of the CSIS in Washington provides an overview of some innovative public pension reforms made in Sweden, Canada, Australia, Japan and Germany, stressing how the European social model responds more slowly to market globalization.
in his article, Carlo Maccheroni analyses the effects of ageing on consumption patterns and social expenditure.
Dede Kasneci highlights the general approach of the EU ‘active ageing’ policy that considers the older workers as a special group for whom special solutions need to be proposed. But ageing is also an opportunity to be seized and one of the ‘humanity greatest triumphs’ (WHO, 2002).
Višnja Samardžija’s paper aims to give an answer to the question to which extent the Lisbon agenda goals are relevant for the countries of South East Europe (SEE) during the EU accession process and particularly tries to evaluate the position of Croatia in relation to the Lisbon goals.
At the end of the first section Edva Sarfati stresses the necessity of a social dialogue for sustainable pensions and flexible labour markets, given that some Governments increasingly encounter opposition to the controversial welfare and labour markets reforms that seem necessary to address the challenge of demographic ageing.
In the second section, Science and Health, Nebojša Nešković introduces us to special medical techniques which are Positron emission tomography (PET) and proton therapy (PT). These techniques are used for diagnostics in oncology, neurology, psychiatry, cardiology and play a special role in lengthening the life cycle and improving its quality.
In the following article Antonella Deponte offers a social psychology contribution to the study of ageing. She stresses the fact that people generally see the Elderly according to the social role they represent for example ‘the old citizen’, ‘the grandparents’, ‘the old employee’ and we rank them in a specific social group, while the Elderly are so different among them.
Yung-Ping Chen discusses issues concerning quantity of life and quality of life in the context of health and ageing. The agenda of health and ageing will be enriched if it places greater attention to quality of life issues that encompass both physical health and mental health.
In fact Cristina Giudici highlights the relationship between activity, in the sense of social participation, and health among the Elderly. The relation is reciprocal: bad health hinders social participation, but isolation could have a negative effect on health, especially on mental health.
In the insurance section Lukas Steinmann and Veronica Scotti stress that demographic ageing is certainly a major challenge for developed and developing world. Labour market and pension systems need to be flexible in order to adapt to the changing demographics. A healthy and well developed market of private solutions is not the one-and-only solution, but it can remove the pressure from ailing state pension systems.
The weakness and the open problems of Italian complementary pension are the topics of Marcello Messori’s article, probably due to a ‘distorted early maturity of the sector’.
Patrick Liedtke proposes that Insurance companies can play a key role in providing solutions for old-age income. The new welfare approach consists in the so-called ‘risk shift from public to private’, which aims to replace the existing too expensive system.
In the Employment and Social Issues Section Elsa Fornero and Chiara Monticone give their contribution about flexible retirement in Europe. Almost all the recent pension reforms reflect the will to increase incentives for postponing retirement and the introduction of flexibility. Yung-Ping Chen stresses that the strategy of flexible work options for all ages could help generate more work.
Andrea Principi, Marie Gianelli and Giovanni Lamura aim to provide an overview of the initiatives currently implemented by companies in Italy with regard to their older employees.
Immigration is not a sufficient remedy for population decline and Manuela Stranges examines the contributions in favour and against this question with an overview for the European countries.
Mattia Makovec and Asghar Zaidi analyse the effect of life-course disruptions — unemployment, disability, separation and widowhood — on income and living conditions in EU Member States.
In the last cultural ISSUES section Raimondo Cagiano de Azevedo examines ageing and rejuvenation of European populations related to some philosophical foundations.
Paul Hewitt’s paper shows that in USA, some experts, taking into account of demographic dynamics, the evolution of the law and the financial asset of baby boom generations, have elaborated the Generational Impact Statement (GIS) a tool that allows to estimate the impact of health expenses in the next future and allow institutions to better align health policy with stated intentions.
All these issues and the Economics of Ageing are the basic points for the conference “The New Welfare: The Counter-Ageing Society, Svecchiamento e Società” (Lengthening of Life-Cycle, Employment, Pensions and Health) organized by Macros Research, The Geneva Association, The Risk Institute, which will be held on 8 October 2007 in Turin. We thank very much their financial support of Fondiaria-Sai, EurizonVita, and IntesaSanpaolo, the support of ANIA (Italian Association of Insurance Companies) and the collaboration of CeRP. You will find the conference programme in the Announcements section.
Tags: counter-ageing society, European social model, life-cycle lenghtening, world population