Inclusive growth and the challenge of population ageing
The coming together of inclusion, notions of sustainable growth and population ageing creates an opportunity to re-think existing assumptions in social policy. Inclusive growth, for the purpose of argument outlined below, is taken to mean a form of cultural adaptation that maximises benefits to older citizens and the contribution of older adults to an intergenerational society.
As part of the task of re-thinking, the following key components would play an important part:
The challenge of an ageing population is a cultural as well as a demographic one. Successful adaptation to these new circumstances will affect our organisations, intergenerational relationships and the identities made available to older adults. participating in society, and therefore what is seen to be excluded, in poverty and to lack social capital.
Indeed, the debate on responding to a long life, whether by seeing a stretched lifecourse with multiple forms of contribution, or as what has been labelled a productive solution of working longer, are really both attempting to answer the question: in what ways can we release the social capital of a mature life? This challenge I have called releasing ‘generational capital’.
A number of factors occur, arising from a longer life that may contribute to a re-positioning of mature adults in wider society and their contribution in relation to inclusive growth. These would include: At least in the view of this author, solving the problem of cultural adaptation should not simply assume that a longer life equates to more work from a surplus pool of older workers. The discovery of new roles via the combination of recognising discontinuity in existential life-priorities, a broad based contribution, distinguishing life-priorities, social and economic contributions would form a significant part of the adaptive process. A longer and more flexible working life Would play its part, including the development of age-friendly working environments and increased recognition of the the right mix of roles and expertise that both younger and older workers can bring. As can volunteering and community contributions. While research on the uptake of voluntary activities is mixed, there is little doubt that many older adults make a valuable contribution through voluntary community engagement via their enhanced social skills. : Contributions to Caring and family cohesion require recognition and support. Redesigned Environments, Design and Construction opportunities, the development of New Markets, and recognising the positive role of Intergenerational transfers will all play their part. The two new Australian Government initiatives are just the beginning of a process, the vision of which will inspire hope for many older Australians. The trick will be to find complementary and negotiated roles between generations rather than relying on the ‘more of the same’ debate around either work or decline. This paper outlines ideas elaborated in the following academic papers: Biggs, S. (2004) New ageism: age imperialism, personal experience and ageing policy. In Daatland, S-O. & Biggs, S. Ageing & Diversity. Bristol: Policy. 95-106 Atsushi, S., Biggs, S. & Sargent, L. (2012) organisational adaptation and human resource needs for an ageing population. 46-50 In Beard, J.R., Biggs, S., Bloom, D.E., Fried, L., Hogan, P., Kalache,A. and Olshansky, S.J. (2012) Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise? Geneva: World Economic Forum Biggs,S., Carstensen, L. & Hogan, P. (2012) Social capital, lifelong learning and social innovation. In Beard, J.R., Biggs, S., Bloom, D.E., Fried, L., Hogan, P., Kalache,A. and Olshansky, S.J. (2012) Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise? Geneva: World Economic Forum Biggs S, Haapala I and Lowenstein A (2011) Exploring Generational Intelligence as a Model for Examining the Process of Intergenerational Relationships. Ageing & Society 31(3): 353-371. Moulaert, T. and Biggs, S. (2012) International and European Policy on Work and Retirement: reinventing critical perspectives on active ageing and mature subjectivity Human relations (in press)