It is fitting for the last year of the millennium to be the International Year of Older Persons, with the theme “towards a society for all ages” — a society that does not caricature older persons as pensioners, but sees them as both agents and beneficiaries of development”.*
This is the first issue of the European Papers on the New Welfare, the Counter-ageing Society in 2009. On behalf of all the team of the European Papers on the New Welfare, I wish you all the best for the New Year.
Almost four years have passed since the first issue of the European Papers on the New Welfare, the Counter-ageing Society in May 2005. The publication has become a key reference point concerning the question of the lengthening of life cycle and its social and economic repercussions. The European Papers have the aim of making this revolutionary phenomenon better understood and of stimulating a discussion on the active role of the elderly, passing from the old idea of the ageing society to the promotion the new concept of the counter-ageing society (Giarini, 2005).
Eleven issues have been published so far and each number has about 1.000 printed copies addressed to international Universities, public and private research institutions and financial enterprises. We have created a website www.newwelfare.org, where all issues and articles published, in English and Italian, are fully and freely available.
The European Papers have been privileged to benefit from the skills and knowledge of experts and academics all over world.
Number 11 of the European Papers on the New Welfare opens with an article by Milton Nektarios “The European Social Pension: A Theoretical Exercise”. The focus of the paper is on the idea of establishing a European Minimum Pension (Atkinson et al., 2002). This requires that all current pensioners with incomes below the minimum standard would be brought up to this standard by means of a supplementary pension, financed by the corresponding Member State. The author suggests that the supplementary pension be named European Social Pension and be provided by the EU.
The paper by Aleksander Zidanšek and Ivo Šlaus “Intertwining of Ageing and Sustainability in Eastern Europe” analyzes the demographic transition of most Eastern European countries. They state that this demographic transition must be accompanied by the creation of a knowledge-based society. Such a transition will require an increase in life-long learning and in the importance of the role of science in our societies. In those countries, where this transition to knowledge-based societies will be successful, the obtained changes will be beneficial both to economic performance as well as to the sustainability of these societies.
The article by Martin Hutsebaut “Pension System Reforms and Trade Union Policies Overview of EU — Western Europe” presents the major pension reform trends in Western Europe and highlights the European Trade Union position in relation to pensions. The pension reform policies put into place differ from country to country: they are determined by the construction of systems, by the policy conceptions of governments and social partners and by the economic and fiscal resources available.
Yung-Ping Chen, Eskil Wadensjo and Andrea Tull in their paper “Potential Labor Supply and Flexible Work Option for all Workers: An Exploratory Essay” look at the issue of encouraging older people to work longer and consider it a worthy goal. The article is intended to introduce the concept of flexible work options for all workers, i.e. young people, women, persons with disabilities, as well as older workers. Flexible work options would include such practices as part-time work, flex-time, intermittent leave for childcare or eldercare, phased retirement, and telecommuting, among other arrangements.
Asghar Zaidi’s paper “Multidimensional Perspective on the Well-being of Older People” emphasises the importance of adopting a multidimensional approach when evaluating the personal well-being of older people. This study emphasises the importance of adopting the multidimensional approach when evaluating the personal well-being of this particular subgroup. It uses income and health as the two single dimensions, each chosen for their importance to the well-being of older people.
Andrea Principi and Giovanni Lamura in their article “Towards the Improvement in working conditions for older workers: empirical evidence from Maltese companies” underline that in Malta the issue of working at a mature age is starting to be approached at the company level. While the Maltese Government has mainly concentrated on the question of reforming the pension system, and although the retirement age has been raised, there are still some regulatory contradictions to be resolved in order to guarantee older workers better work prospects and conditions.
Dallas Salisbury’s article “USA Retirees 2008 Survey: Summary Report” is an excerpt from the 2008 Recent Retirees Survey, which has the objective of a better understanding of the tools and practices that might encourage workers to postpone their retirement and remain longer with their company.
Roger Hessel in his article “The need for Age-Neutral Training in the Silver Society” highlights the European Employment Strategy, the concept of “active ageing” and the question as to whether the productive potential of older people does not appear to be substantially impaired by ageing per se. The paper advocates an age-neutral approach to vocational training: learning must become a habit for all ages aiming at delivering a base of competences and skills relevant to all stages of working life.
The paper of James C. Capretta “Medicare in USA: Present and Future” points out that the primary focus of American health-care policy debates in recent years has been over what to do about the nation’s 46 million uninsured residents. The new President’s campaign plan proposed major revisions in the regulatory structure for health insurance for the working age (under age 65) population and their families. But the plan does very little by way of reform of Medicare, the insurance program already in place for those citizens age 65 and older, or for the disabled.
Giuseppe Turchetti “The Interaction of Public and Private Systems in Health Care Provision: The Italian Two-faced Janus” presents and discusses an extreme case of co-existence between public and private regimes in providing healthcare — the Italian intramoenia. Although the intramoenia regime presents numerous advantages for the patient, the doctor, the hospital, the payer, and the whole healthcare system, it has not spread as much as might be expected.
The last section of the publication presents some documents and opens with the report by Richard Jackson and Neil Howe “The Graying of the Great Powers — Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century” on the geopolitical implications of “global aging”. It not only assesses the direct impact of demographic trends on population numbers, economic size, and defence capabilities, but also considers how these trends may indirectly affect capabilities by altering economic performance, social temperament, and national goals. This overview summarizes the report’s main findings under two headings: findings about the demographic transformation and findings about its geopolitical implications.
Christopher Ball in “Clinical Aspects of Long — Term Risk Management” investigates the relationship between life/health underwriting and the medical profession that may seem simple at first sight. However there is a complex dynamic between the two that is at its most intricate in the assessment of Long Term Care (LTC) risk. Most of the difficulties arise from the way that the different professions know things and the need for one to adapt this knowledge to the paradigms of the other. Developing a shared language between underwriter and physician is at the heart of growing the expertise in managing LTC risk.
The last document of this volume by Ross Campbell “Long Term Care Underwriting and Claims Assessment Protocols — The UK Experience” presents a critical look at some weaknesses in LTC underwriting and claims protocols that developed in the UK market against a backdrop of a collapsing demand for pre-funded LTC products. Although these products have all but disappeared from the UK market, important lessons can be learned to help new entrants deal more effectively with risk management of any second generation LTC products.
We express our deep gratitude to all the experts for their contributions, they have been so lavish in their efforts and we hope you will enjoy reading their work.
We thank our readers very much again and we invite them to contribute to the next issue of the European Papers in Italian, which is already under preparation.
* Kofi Annan’s message for the International Year of Older Persons, 1999