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More Years, Better Life: 5 European projects to ensure a better, more active old age

An international team of scientists and experts from across Europe called to build the future of the Old Continent, plan new scenarios and reshape healthcare and welfare systems, with a view to providing solutions to upcoming challenges

What is the key of the wellbeing of increasingly aged and ethnically diversified populations, with longer life expectancy, capable of remaining socially and professionally active for longer periods, thereby also helping the younger generations? What are the best welfare models capable of supporting ageing processes whilst preventing cross-generational inequalities? How can healthcare be ensured to old people while allocating resources to new families, promoting childbirth, thwarting inequalities in terms of life expectancy linked to different levels of education and different socio-economic status? Researchers involved in various international and inter-disciplinary projects funded with a 7-million-euro grant by JPI More Years, Better Life have been called to find the answers to these and many more questions providing a key to the future scenario of the Old Continent. The awarded projects were presented on the occasion of the 2016 Conference of the Joint Programming Initiative “More Years Better Lives”, held past December in Rome at the Sacred Heart Catholic University , within the A. Gemelli Hospital.

“Crew” (Care, retirement and wellbeing of older people across different welfare regimes) is the project of an inter-disciplinary group consisting of six institutions in five Countries that will attempt to

probe into the factors that influence the global wellbeing of old people.

“Our research – said Bruno Arpino from the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the Universitat Pomepu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona – will involve four themes. First of all, we will analyse the factors that influence the wellbeing of the elderly in their multi-dimensional life, taking into account those aspects linked to physical or mental health as well as subjective wellbeing. Second, we will study the extent to which caring for others (grandchildren, parents, spouse…) impacts wellbeing and professional decisions. Third, we will analyse the challenges of pension systems resulting from changes in family dynamics and in the job market. In particular, we will focus on how to ensure equal and stable pension systems. Finally, we will examine the elderly population with no close relatives, their features and health conditions.”

The “Emmy” Project (European Welfare Models and Mental Wellbeing in Final Years of Life) is a comparative survey on the impact of welfare systems on the mental wellbeing of the elderly in Finland, Italy, Norway and Spain, including aspects such as equality, social inclusion, responsibility and participation. Support will be given to the exchange of good policies between EU member countries with additional research on the present situation in the four participating Countries.

The project will support the development of social assistance models in order to focus on the mental wellbeing of old people at global level.

The “Weltransim” project (Demographic change and intra and intergenerational distribution: Modelling the impact of different welfare models) is aimed at explaining how ageing processes influence the transfer of resources between various age groups and among people belonging to the same generation. Population ageing, said Ció Patxot from the Facultat de Economia i Empresa of the Universitat de Barcelona, entails greater pressure on social security systems, greater need for long-term health assistance, and, in general, changes in the healthcare systems of the different countries. The effects of population ageing will have a different impact on the rest of society according to the different welfare policies. The role of outplacements in the family (in terms of time and money) will be equally important to understand how societies react to population ageing processes, that can lead to various forms of inequality: between the same age groups and at cross-generational level (in families with and without children). The scope and tenor of said inequalities will depend, inter alia, on the structure of the pension system and on the various levels of education.

The “Circle” project (Care and Income Redistributive Cycles in the Lives of Europeans) explores the impact of recent economic and demographic changes on cross-generational distribution of income and on families’ capability to provide assistance to their members in difficulty and ensure their financial support in case of need, said Claudia Villosio, from the“Laboratorio Riccardo Revelli – Centre for Employment Studies. Collegio Carlo Alberto”, in Moncalieri (Turin). The goal of the project is to provide new empirical evidence on the effects of the interaction between changes in the economic, demographic and welfare systems on resource distribution, cross-generational rights and responsibilities. The analysis involves EU Countries as a whole.

The “AgeWellAccounts” project (Age-Specific Wellbeing- and Transfer Accounts: Evaluating Intergenerational Support) aims at providing

data and methods for the analysis of all forms of cross-generational support across the various European Countries.

Information on the different age groups in terms of the manifold aspects of wellbeing will be examined (ranging from the way in which individuals of different age groups spend their time, to subjective wellbeing, health…). A detailed analysis will be conducted on the ways in which the various forms of wellbeing change in the course of life. The project is structured in three work packages meant to analyse individual financial situation, time use, health, happiness and subjective satisfaction.

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