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Prof Thomas Scharf - Future of Ageing

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Presentation Slides from Professor Thomas Scharf's speech at the ILC-UK 2017 Future of Ageing Conference, 29 November 2017, London.

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Prof Thomas Scharf - Future of Ageing

  1. 1. Inequalities in Old Age Thomas Scharf Newcastle University Institute for Ageing @NCLAgeing The Future of Ageing ILC-UK Conference 2017
  2. 2. Outline • Inequalities in later life - What do we know? - Where do we need more evidence? • Responding to inequalities in later life - Why is a response needed? - Who needs to respond? • Towards a more joined-up approach - Transforming ageing policy and practice • Five key messages
  3. 3. Inequalities in later life What do we know? • Scoping review by Newcastle University and ILC-UK for Centre for Ageing Better - Robust but non-exhaustive review of inequalities affecting people aged 50+ in England - Outcomes: physical and mental health; (healthy) life expectancy; subjective wellbeing; social connections; financial security; living environment - Inequalities associated with: gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation; socioeconomic status; geography; being a carer
  4. 4. • Six separate reviews of empirical evidence relating to each of the selected outcomes: - What is the scale and nature of inequalities in terms of specific outcomes in later life? - What is the quality and strength of the evidence, and where are there gaps or limitations in the evidence base? • Findings to be launched at event hosted by Centre for Ageing Better on 6 December 2017 Inequalities in later life What do we know?
  5. 5. • Deep-seated and persisting nature of inequalities based on such factors as age, gender, socioeconomic status, place of residence, care relations • Later life unnecessarily diminished in quality and quantity for key groups in society • Evidence strongest in relation to inequalities in physical and mental health, life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, financial security • More work to be done in other areas, especially to reflect better the diversity of ageing Inequalities in later life Where do we need more evidence?
  6. 6. “We hold out this hope for those of us committed to critical gerontology … that we do whatever we do with passion and a belief that our scholarship can make a difference: that is move people to action.” (Holstein and Minkler, 2007, p 26). Responding to inequalities Engaging in “passionate scholarship”
  7. 7. Responding to inequalities Why is a response needed? • Powerful social justice arguments - Equity within and between social groups • Powerful political arguments - Social cohesion in a post-Brexit UK - Solidarity between and across the generations • Powerful economic arguments - Loss of productivity, increased costs - Changing labour markets - Changing patterns of consumption
  8. 8. Responding to inequalities Who needs to respond? • A task that no single sector can tackle on its own • Need for a ‘whole-system’ response that draws on ‘Quadruple Helix’ model: - Government - Industry/business - Academia - Civil society • Requires political leadership but also involves all organisations present at ILC-UK conference (e.g. Centre for Ageing Better, National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Legal & General, DWP, Campaign to End Loneliness, Anchor, Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, Age-friendly Manchester, ILC-UK…)
  9. 9. Towards a more joined-up approach? Case study The inequalities challenge for ‘age-friendly’ cities and communities • How should age-friendly cities and communities respond to robust evidence of socio-spatial inequalities in later life? • Loss of capacity of local authorities to address causes and consequences of inequality: - Limited opportunity or support for redistribution of resources (through taxation) - Centralisation of decision-making processes - Loss of supportive infrastructures
  10. 10. Unequal life expectancies City Average male life expectancy in years City Average male life expectancy in years Glasgow City 72.6 Leeds 78.0 Manchester 74.8 London Borough of Southwark 78.0 Belfast 75.2 Coventry 78.1 Liverpool 76.1 London Borough of Lewisham 78.2 Salford 76.1 Bristol 78.3 Derry City (and Strabane) 76.4 Brighton & Hove 78.7 Stoke-on-Trent 76.7 Sheffield 78.7 Nottingham 76.9 United Kingdom 78.9 Sunderland 77.0 Stockport 79.8 Newcastle 77.5 Isle of Wight 80.0 Source: Office for National Statistics, 2015
  11. 11. Transforming ageing policy and practice • Age-friendliness has the potential to address unequal ageing. For example, by: − Promoting decent employment opportunities − Enhancing service/support access − Improving social connections − Creating opportunities for civic engagement − Improving the physical environment • Since this won’t happen spontaneously, addressing causes and consequences of unequal ageing should become embedded within age-friendly policies and programmes
  12. 12. • Age-friendliness also implies challenging policies, programmes and practices associated with widening inequalities in later life • Value of aligning age-friendly initiatives with related programmes orientated towards tackling (health) inequalities (e.g. Marmot, 2010) • Implies a much stronger focus of age-friendly initiatives on disadvantaged persons and communities Transforming ageing policy and practice
  13. 13. 1. We already know a lot about inequalities in later life 2. There are compelling arguments that justify taking action to reduce inequalities 3. The key challenge is political: how do we move people to action around unequal ageing? 4. Action on reducing inequalities involves everyone 5. Interventions required across entire life course Key messages
  14. 14. Contact thomas.scharf@ncl.ac.uk Thank you for listening!

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