Old-age exclusion involves interchanges between multi-level risk factors, processes and outcomes. Varying in form and degree across the older adult life course, its complexity, impact and prevalence is amplified by old-age vulnerabilities, accumulated disadvantage for some groups, and constrained opportunities to ameliorate exclusion. Old-age exclusion leads to inequities in choice and control, resources and relationships, and power and rights in key domains of life. Old-age exclusion implicates states, societies, communities and individuals.
ROSEnet is guided by five questions:
Scientific understanding of old-age exclusion as a multidimensional phenomenon is severely limited. There is a damaging lack of conceptual innovation on old-age exclusion. Only a handful of conceptual frameworks specifically consider exclusion in later life and often neglect theoretical explanations of why exclusion occurs in older age. Work on individual domains of exclusion (i.e. economic, social, service, civic rights, and community domains) is also underdeveloped, giving rise to significant knowledge gaps on these different areas of life. Research that has been completed lacks a critical perspective, and fails to explore interconnections between process and outcomes across the different forms of exclusion. There is as a result an underdeveloped scientific discourse on multi-dimensional old-age exclusion.
Old-age exclusion is a direct and significant barrier to European Union (EU) goals, and World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN) recommendations on active and healthy ageing (EIP-AHA 2011; UN 2002; WHO, 2002). It undermines citizens’ ability to lead healthy, active and independent lives as they age, and to contribute in meaningful ways to European societies. Old-age exclusion has negative outcomes for European societies, affecting individuals, families, welfare and care system sustainability, and ultimately socio-economic stability. Old-age exclusion is, therefore, a major challenge for Europe today and into the future.
There is an absence of a comprehensive conceptual framework to guide policy development on age-related disadvantage. Existing policy lacks relevance, exhibits low political prioritisation and fails to address the importance of jurisdictional contexts and the role of individual diversity and the lived experience. Critically, current policy debates also lacks awareness of the intersection between demographic ageing and social exclusion. Reducing the number of people at risk of exclusion by 20 million is a Europe 2020 strategy headline target (EC 2010). Extended lifespans, stagnating populations, and limited economic growth render this target difficult to achieve. This is particularly because older people alone will account for 17 million additional citizens, and 104 million people overall (20%), by 2020 in Europe (Eurostat 2012).
ROSEnet aims to overcome fragmentation and critical gaps in conceptual innovation on old-age exclusion across the life course, in order to address the research-policy disconnect and tackle social exclusion amongst older people in Europe. The action will engage researchers and policy stakeholders in creating shared understandings and directing the development of new policy and practice interventions that can be practically and effectively implemented, to reduce exclusion in diverse European ageing societies.
Old-age exclusion is relative. It is thus shaped by structural institutions, values, norms and policies of the context in which it occurs. It, therefore, can take on different meanings in different national settings and European regions. It might also be constructed in different ways, with different implications from one jurisdiction to the next. Utilising its pan-European membership and geographic coverage, ROSEnet will be in a unique position to unpack these relative elements of exclusion in later life.