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ICSG Launches New Book on Ageing Through Austerity

May 2015

The impact of the recession and austerity on older people is as diverse as the ageing population itself according to the authors of a newly published book on the topic. Ageing Through Austerity: Critical Perspectives from Ireland builds on nine years of research and social policy work at the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway.

Edited by Kieran Walsh, Gemma Carney and Áine Ní Léime of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, the book brings together knowledge and research on key issues affecting older people during the economic recession. These include: citizenship, social participation, work and pensions, ageing and supportive communities, dementia care, and social inclusion and exclusion.

According to Professor Norah Keating, the Director of The Global Social Initiative on Ageing, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics: “With impeccable timing, Walsh, Carney and Ní Léime capture the intersections of population ageing and global economic recessions, using Ireland as the exemplar of the impact of austerity on older people.”

The book explores conflicting evidence in Ireland and in other jurisdictions about exactly how older people have faired during the economic recession and subsequent austerity programmes. The reality is that the magnitude of the impact of the recession and austerity on older people is as diverse as the ageing population itself. The reality is also, that while the economic recession and austerity programmes have introduced new problems for some older people, in particular areas of life, they have primarily intensified pre-existing and deeply entrenched issues and inequalities.

Ageing Through Austerity interrogates whether or not the economic recession and austerity has in fact altered ageing experiences and the social policy landscape for older people in Ireland. It explores the linkages between the global, national and local levels that shape the experiences of ageing in a time of austerity. It also looks at the power of globalisation, and its various mechanisms, over national and community contexts.

The economic recession has served to sharpen the focus of policy makers and governments on the implications of demographic ageing for under-resourced and struggling fiscal systems. This was certainly a part of the justification for why it was necessary that the social policy pressures characterising ageing societies are understood within the current economic conditions and perhaps more importantly the evolving circumstances of austerity.

The book addresses a substantial gap in the international literature concerning the degree to which economic recessions and austerity impact on social policy issues for older people, and frames the development of related policy. It contains chapters from leading experts in Ireland, and contributions from international scholars Alan Walker (University of Sheffield) and Chris Phillipson (University of Manchester).

According to Professor W. Andrew Achenbaum of the University of Houston: “By illuminating individual, regional and societal disparities, this book helps readers rethink the consequences of altered political economies and practices, such as recession, on aging and generations.”

Ageing Through Austerity: Critical Perspectives from Ireland is published by Policy Press and more information is available at www.policypress.co.uk. It was launched at the recent International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Regional Meeting (IAGG-ER).