26 - 29 September 2016 - One in three children born in Europe today will live to reach 100, what does this mean for society, public policy and the life course of individuals? A CPC and Population Europe event organised in the European Parliament attempted to unpick some of the issues and think about how social policy might be shaped in the future to adapt to our changing lifespans.
The panel debate on the 26th September launched the opening of the Population Europe 'How to get to 100 and enjoy it' exhibition which previously toured the UK. Bringing together experts from research, policy and civil society the opening debate discussed the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in Europe with a special focus on active ageing and care.
Sponsor and host of the event Mr Heinz K Becker MEP, gave a passionate opening address from his perspective as Vice President of the Parliamentary Group on Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity, VC of the Parliamentary Interest Group on Carers and Member of the European Parliament Disability Group. Panel members included;
CPC Director Professor Jane Falkingham OBE. Professor Axel Börsch-Supan, Director of the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich. Helmut Kramer, Founding President of the Austrian Interdisciplinary Platform on Ageing, Vienna. Montserrat Mir Roca, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Brussels, and Stecy Yghemonos, Director of Eurocarers, Brussels.
An energetic debate took place with Moderator Harald Wilkozewski asking the panel challenging questions. CPC's Jane Falkingham talked about how we measure old age and its changing meaning as well as discussing the importance of life course sensitive social policy. Stecy Yghemonos noted the importance of informal carers and their health and wellbeing, echoing CPCs research in this area. The audience noted the vital role of women as carers and the juxtaposition of policy focus on women in paid work was deliberated. Jane Falkingham considered that men are less likely to ask employers for flexible working patterns than women while Montserrat Mir Roca put to the panel the critical importance of work and the type of work individuals do on their later life outcomes. Axel Börsch-Supan dispelled the myth that older workers take jobs away from the young. Jane Falkingham examined the distribution of work across the lifecourse and new forms of social protection. The panel endorsed the importance of a lifetime perspective, starting with childhood, and fundamentally addressing inequality throughout life to close the gaps in life expectancy according to socioeconomic status. Healthy life expectancy was debated, with consideration of what is needed for healthy and active ageing and what kind of engagement individuals, policy and other social actors play in achieving it.
The debate, enabled through funding from the ESRC, was attended by various Members of European Parliament, the European Commission and Chief Executive Officers of several NGO's. The exhibition in the European Parliament runs until 29th September with Researchers on hand to guide visitors through the exhibition. An App is now available containing the content of the exhibition.