Unequal Social Participation in Later Life

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Claudia VOGEL , German Centre of Gerontology, Germany
Julia SIMONSON , German Centre of Gerontology, Germany
Andreas MOTEL-KLINGEBIEL , German Centre of Gerontology, Germany
Christine HAGEN , German Centre of Gerontology, Germany
The concept of active ageing comprises the maintenance of societal participation throughout the life span into old age. ‘Good’ ageing in line with this activity paradigm develops into a starting point of social inequality rather than being its result. Based on the German Ageing Survey (DEAS) and on the German Survey on Volunteering (FWS) we investigate the access to volunteering and to educational activities depending on social and spatial aspects of inequality. The DEAS is a nationwide representative cross-sectional and longitudinal survey of the German population aged 40 and above, so far data was collected in four waves in the years 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2011. The FWS is a representative cross-sectional survey on voluntary work, honorary office and civic engagement of the population living in Germany aged 14 and older. Data is currently available for the years 1999, 2004 and 2009.    

Societal participation is socially and spatially structured: Individuals from a lower social class are less often involved in educational activities or in volunteering. The results of our multi-level-analyses clearly support these inequalities in societal participation known from the literature among individuals in both, middle and later life. Moreover, our findings indicate that individuals living in economically disadvantaged regions are less likely to participate than in economically strong regions. Disadvantages cumulate in case that low individual resources overlap with poor economic conditions in the living area. Therefore, measures to facilitate participation should be taken on the local level to enhance opportunities for volunteering and educational activities throughout the life course and especially in later life. This should help to increase the participation of individuals from lower social classes sustainably.