Age-Based Attitudes Towards State Welfare for the Elderly: Setting Conditions for the Intergenerational Contract

Saturday, 21 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Maša FILIPOVIČ HRAST, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Tatjana RAKAR, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Mi Ah SCHOYEN, Oslo & Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway
Bjorn HVINDEN, Oslo Metropolitan University (OSLOMET), Norway
The welfare state is sometimes conceptualised as an implicit intergenerational contract. Old age pensions and elderly care are the main sources of support targeted at elderly. Moreover, older people consume more healthcare than other groups. Thus, considerable public resources are transferred from the active population to retired elderly. However, due to tight budgets and restructuring of welfare states, in part driven by population ageing, the generational contract has come under pressure. We might speculate that intergenerational conflict will gradually emerge as a prominent political cleavage. To say something about the likelihood of such conflicts, attitude surveys are helpful. However, survey data struggle to reveal why people hold the views they do. Thus, the proposed paper complements existing research by analysing data from focus groups interviews with young adults and retirees in four countries (Germany, Norway, Slovenia and the UK) representing different welfare state regimes.

We explore attitudes towards the use of conditions in programmes targeted at the elderly. Little is known about how the general trend of increasing conditionality is reflected in social policies for the elderly. Old people are generally considered deserving recipients of state welfare. Attitudes towards old age policies may also relate to self-interest, or normative arguments, based on convictions about fairness or obligation. These arguments are always articulated within a context of institutional variations across welfare states.

Interested in expressions of intergenerational solidarity and conflict and their underlying motivations, we look for differences between the old and the young. We examine attitudes toward deservingness of elderly and arguments for and against conditionality when awarding public old age pension benefits and elderly care services. The analysis is comparative at two levels: First, we investigate whether attitudes and justifications differ between age groups within each country. Second, we examine differences and similarities across the four cases.