What is Just Ageing?
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the new merged charity
Age Concern and Help the Aged, have joined forces to investigate and develop
an understanding of equality over the life course and to identify solutions to A think piece on
inequalities in later life.
To find out more about the Just Ageing? programme and receive details of future
events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our Executive summary
website to find out more at www.equalityhumanrights.com/justageing
Who we are
The Equality and Human Rights Age Concern and Help the Aged
Commission is working to eliminate have joined together to form Age UK,
discrimination, reduce inequality, a single charity dedicated to improving
protect human rights and ensure the lives of older people. We are a new
that everyone has a fair chance to charity with a clear vision: a world in
participate in society. which older people flourish. We work
with a range of partners to ensure that
Find out more about the Equality
together we can improve the lives of
and Human Rights Commission
via our website at:
www.equalityhumanrights.com To find out more about Age Concern and
or by contacting one of our helplines. Help the Aged visit our website at:
England helpline: 0845 604 6610
or e-mail us at:
Textphone: 0845 604 6620
Scotland helpline: 0845 604 5510 or call us on:
Textphone: 0845 604 5520 020 8765 7200
Wales helpline: 0845 604 8810
Textphone: 0845 604 8820
Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm
Age Concern England (charity number 261794) has
merged with Help the Aged (charity number 272786) to
form Age UK, a charitable company limited by guarantee
and registered in England: registered office address
207–221 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9UZ, company
number 6825798, registered charity number 1128267.
Age Concern and Help the Aged are brands of
Age UK. The three national Age Concerns in Scotland,
Northern Ireland and Wales have also merged with
Help the Aged in these nations to form three registered
charities: Age Scotland, Age NI, Age Cymru.
Executive summary Main findingsx
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is working Concepts and approaches to The term ‘generation’ is not clear-cut but
in partnership with Age Concern and Help the Aged on a programme of intergenerational equity broadly signifies cohorts succeeding each
seminars and research called ‘Just Ageing?’. The purpose of the programme Many different concepts of IGE have been other over time. Aspects of social justice
is to investigate and develop understanding of the dynamics of inequality used and lead to much confusion. It is and equity are about relations between the
over the life course. important to distinguish between: generations. Inequalities within generations
are greater than those between generations.
Equity between different contemporary
The commissioning of this think piece reflected the partners’ keenness
(that is living) generations, which includes:
to explore the concept of intergenerational equity in more detail. It is essential to consider the experiences
n Equal respect for different generations
‘Intergenerational equity’ (IGE) is a term used in many ways for many of different generations, not merely as
n Equal opportunities for different
purposes. The report sets out different concepts of IGE that have they stand now but over their life course,
been used, reviews the historical uses of these concepts, examines which provides a changing backdrop as
n Comparative living standards of
intergenerational relationships at the level of the household and the the economy and society change.
relation between paid and unpaid work, discusses issues that arise in
thinking about IGE and finally draws conclusions for the work of the Private transfers between generations, There are three simple models of society: a
Commission and Age Concern and Help the Aged. which includes: private, family-based model; a state model;
n Burdens of caring for young and older and a mixed model. Intergenerational equity
people has a different significance depending on
n Variations in private care and support the model of the role of the state in society.
that affects life chances British society is most similar to a mixed
n Private financial transfers between model, which indicates the importance of
generations both private and public behaviour for IGE.
n Levels of savings and debt incurred for,
and inheritance to, other generations How far outcomes for different
generations have been collectively willed
Public transfers between generations,
or are the result of many interacting,
undirected influences is important for the
n The burden of debt inherited by question of what, if anything, should be
younger generations done about IGE. It is highly improbable
n The burden of taxes and pension
that one generation is able to manipulate
contributions borne or to be borne by resources in such a way that they benefit
different generations to the detriment of others. Even if
A think piece on integenerational equity Equity between contemporary collective agency of a generation was
by David Piachaud, John Macnicol and Jane Lewis generations and future generations, as proved, remedial action or ‘corrective
Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics yet unborn, which includes: justice’ would be highly unjust and likely
n Future generations and the state of to remove resources from those who are
A full copy of the report ‘A think piece on integenerational equity’ our planet most in need.
is available to download in Word and PDF formats on our website at: n Comparative burdens on present and
www.equalityhumanrights.com/justageing future populations.
History of the debate on Changes with implications for IGE Intergenerational equity at the There is a tension between increasing
intergenerational equity Due to the limited evidence that is household level ‘individualisation’ and self-sufficiency
The modern debate on IGE originated in available and the complexity of the The activities, responsibilities and on the one hand, and continuing
the 1980s in the United States of America interactions involved it is very hard to supportive relationships that exist in dependence, interdependence and need
and arose from concerns that the social generalise about any one generation, households and between members of for support between generations on
security pension there was unaffordable, let alone the equity of the relative the immediate family and the wider kin the other. Strengthening the position
given a future ageing population. circumstances of different generations. group are complicated. There are many of carers in the labour market and
Upward trends in the age-structure of the different types of households including recognising their unpaid labour when
The reasons behind the evolution of population, lower fertility, a projected ‘blended families’ containing step- they leave is crucial. This is the role of
social policies for older age between the increase in the old-age dependency parents and step-children, and same-sex the state, and policy development is
late nineteenth century and the 1990s ratio, fewer extended families and more relationships. Little is known about the complicated.
were complex, and do not fit easily with disability-free life after age 65 all have impact of these household types upon
a simplistic ‘intergenerational conflict’ implications for IGE. intergenerational transfers and support While cash payments in respect of
explanation. There is no convincing whether emotional, financial or practical. carework are simplest and seem
evidence of a ‘selfish’ welfare generation Since 1979 pensioner incomes have risen to fit easily with the concepts of
monopolising resources in its own interests. relative to average earnings. In that year Each individual is increasingly expected individualisation, choice and control,
pensioners were twice as likely to be in to provide as much as possible for him they are not enough. Sustainable, high
Post-war policies, especially those from poor households as were children but, in or herself and to be active in the labour quality child and elder care is difficult to
the 1970s, tended to discriminate against contrast, child poverty is now higher than market for as long as possible. It is still achieve, particularly in poor areas, using
older people and in favour of young it was in 1979. expected that women will do the bulk the private sector. Many elderly people,
job-seekers. This began to be reversed of unpaid carework and that the particularly with the rapid increase in
from 1994 with rising employment rates, Wide inequalities exist within all ‘middle generation’ will provide unpaid dementia, will need professional help and
although the current economic recession generations. There are many factors carework for the young and older the provision of services.
could have an impact on this. which influence this including social people, while the unpaid carework
class, gender and ethnicity. Little carried out by older people is also vital It is important for policy to pay
research has been carried out on many of but rarely acknowledged. attention to unpaid carework as well as
these differences. employment, and to address the flows of
money and time between generations.
This is especially so if gender equality is
to be promoted and the widening gap in
wealth and income is to be addressed.
But care policies developed for one
group are not necessarily applicable
to another, and need to be set within
a wider context than just the nuclear
family or the household.
Review of issuesx Key issues for the futurex
Four key issues when assessing IGE n Fiscal fairness between generations IGE has been used in many ways and those cared for, promote gender equality
were reviewed in more detail Concern about fiscal fairness between raises many issues. To attempt to and intergenerational equity. In so doing,
generations often revolves around embrace all concepts of IGE would result the intergenerational exchanges of caring
n Intragenerational and pensions; what different generations in confusion and ineffectiveness. This that bind society, whether out of love
intergenerational inequality in care have paid in and what they take out. study suggests three areas that could or a sense of obligation, would become
A number of factors impact upon care But the issue goes far beyond pension warrant further work and action from more transparent and equitable and
relations both between and within schemes. One way of looking at this is the Commission. more a matter of concern to the whole of
generations. These include cultural through generational accounting, which society rather than a private lottery.
attitudes and the highly varied standards attempts to measure the amount current n Respect and equal treatment for
of care that can be found in care homes and future generations can be expected different generations n Sustainable development and equality
and rate of life expectancy across the to pay over time in net taxes, under Explore the dimensions of respect and It is now clear that our legacy to future
country, whereby inequalities within the existing public policies. But it takes a what people, as opposed to Government, generations will depend critically on the
working age population are perpetuated narrow view by concentrating on financial regard as the rights appropriate to state of the planet that is passed on. The
in older age. contributions and receipts by a particular different stages of life. This is a urgency of addressing global warming
generation rather than interpreting challenging but important agenda. means that behaviour must be changed
Any comprehensive assessment of contributions more broadly. Similarly, rapidly. Thus far, little consideration
inequality between generations needs to focusing on Government debt does not n Inequality between generations has been given to how the choices over
take account of care burdens. However, take into account broader societal issues. Develop a more sophisticated approach strategies to achieve this affect equality.
the research necessary to reach reliable to equity that takes account not only This is a pressing and appropriate priority
and meaningful conclusions about the It can be argued that approaches that of differences in income but also of in which the Commission could play a role.
equity of differences in the circumstances single out favoured generations or point burdens of paid and unpaid work,
of different generations is lacking. to the unaffordability of pensions are recognising the costs of caring, which fall
partial and individualised. They ignore disproportionately on women. This can
n Pension arrangements and their the positive externalities of increased enhance the rights of both carers and
consequences for IGE output, economic growth and a general
Different pension arrangements have advancement of resources, that can
different consequences for IGE. There afford opportunities to all generations.
are three main types of pension system: a
fully-funded, actuarially sound model; a n Future generations
contributory pay-as-you-go model; and a A rights-based approach to natural capital
tax-funded pension based on citizenship. and the environment is also important.
The former, minimising the role of the Distributive justice is generally discussed
state, has attracted most support from on a national basis, but issues such as
those concerned with intergenerational climate change impact beyond country
equity; yet the indications are that it boundaries and the lives of one nation
would lead to the greatest inequity. are strongly affected by the behaviour of
other nations. Thus consideration of IGE
is, at least in part, a global issue.