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During the later 20th century, France experienced a dramatic turn around in the quality of its housing. The current cohort of older people witnessed and lived through the transformation. Most people aged over 50 years in France are homeowners and almost one-in-four own a second home. Although the oldest age groups are much less residentially mobile than younger people, home moves are more likely around the age of retirement or widowhood. In recent years, new forms of residential mobility in later life have been emerging. These include a weakening of the commonly observed pattern of a permanent drift away from cities and towns towards areas of childhood origin or family connections. One current trend suggests a preference for preserving residential links with areas of relatively high population density and good access to amenities, coupled with being able to spend time elsewhere, whether in second homes, in children's and grandchildren's homes, or elsewhere. The arrival of the post-1945 baby-boom cohort at retirement has begun, and this may increase the current level of residential mobility and lead to more diverse types, although the change will depend on the development of the housing market as well as residential preferences in old age.
Many have presumed that in developing countries contact with children is beneficial to older people's wellbeing, and particularly that women receive more support from children than men because of their lifelong commitment to family responsibilities. This study questions these stylised notions through an analysis of 22 life histories of older women and men living in a district with high rates of social exclusion in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It focuses on the subjective accounts of relationships with children and grandchildren and their influence on current wellbeing. The life histories reveal complex lived experiences and the significance of key events. The informants speak of the anxiety and harm caused by struggling children, about problems of remote relations with successful children, and of the insecurity of the neighbourhood. The analysis contrasts a materialistic interpretation of the influence of children on older people's wellbeing with the informants' more holistic evaluation of family relationships. By applying a lifecourse framework, we demonstrate among other things that children may be a key source of vulnerability for older people, that the gendering of parent-child relations and later-life wellbeing is nuanced, and that both local and national conditions influence relationships with specific children, with implications for the intergenerational transmission of wellbeing.
This article reports an analysis of European Community Household Panel (ECHP) data to test the hypothesis suggested by Kemeny (1981) and Castles (1998) of a trade-off between the extent of home-ownership and the generosity of old-age pensions. To this end, we evaluate the impact of a range of both pensions arrangements and housing policies on the risk of poverty in old age. The most important analytical innovation is the inclusion of social housing provision as an important policy alternative to the encouragement of home-ownership. Although we found substantial empirical support for the trade-off hypothesis, the findings raise several issues for discussion and further research. Firstly, we found that neither generous pensions nor high ownership rates had the strongest poverty-reducing potential, for this was most strongly associated with the provision of social housing for older people. Furthermore, the analysis identified a group of older people who are faced with a double disadvantage, in the sense that in high home-ownership countries, those who did not possess their own homes also tended to receive low pension benefits. Although this effect arises at least partly as a result of selection – the larger the ownership sector, the more selective the group of people who do not own their homes – the high poverty risk among ‘non-owners’ was apparently not countered by the pension system.
A central theme of ‘innovation theory’, which the author and a colleague have proposed and which is concerned with the triggers, types and benefits of innovation in later life, is that adding brand-new leisure activities after retiring from work enhances post-retirement wellbeing. The study reported in this article aimed to examine this proposition using quantitative data from a nationwide sample in Israel of 378 recently retired individuals. The study explored the frequency of post-retirement innovation in people's leisure repertoires, the association between innovation and retirees' life satisfaction, and factors in the differing life satisfaction of innovators and non-innovators. The results indicate that the inclination toward innovation significantly associated with the respondents' work and retirement histories, as well as with their self-rated health and world region of origin. Innovators had significantly higher life satisfaction than non-innovators, but this difference could not be explained by the number of new activities. In addition, socio-demographic differences failed to explain innovators' wellbeing. While some support for innovation theory was provided, further research is required to explore the dynamics by which innovation at older ages contributes to retirees' wellbeing.
The transition from defined-benefit to defined-contribution occupational-pension plans has placed a premium on the participants' or contributors' decision-making competence. Their attitudes to risk and their responses to available investment options can have far-reaching implications for their retirement income. Behavioural research on risk and uncertainty has raised understanding of the limits of individual decision-making, but the social status and demographic characteristics of plan participants may also affect risk perception and pension choices. By studying a random sample of the British adult population, this paper explores the significance of socio-demographic characteristics for pension-related risk attitudes. It is demonstrated that pension-plan participants do not appear to understand the risks associated with different types of retirement savings and pension plans. The paper also shows that the gender, age and income of plan participants can give rise to distinctive risk propensities, and that marital status and, in particular, whether a spouse also has a pension can also have significant consequences for household risk preferences. These results have implications for those segments of the population that are disadvantaged in the labour market. Employer-provided pensions' education and information programmes may have to be more basic and more closely tailored to the social status of pension plan participants than hitherto assumed or hoped.
It is known that, in general, people of pensionable age have gained in income compared to other age groups in the British population over the last two decades, but that a substantial minority still experience relative poverty. This paper reports a small qualitative study into the effectiveness of a welfare-rights advice and acquisition service for men and women aged 60 or more years that was provided through a local primary health-care service. Additional financial and non-financial resources were obtained by accessing previously unclaimed state-welfare benefits. It was found that these significantly improved the participants' quality of life. Fourteen of the 25 participants received some type of financial award as a result of the service offered, with the median income gain being £57 (€84 or US $101) per week. The impact of additional resources was considerable and included: increased affordability of necessities and occasional expenses; increased capacity to cope with emergencies; and reduced stress related to financial worries. Knowledge of and access to welfare-rights services also appeared to have a positive effect. It is argued that a level of material resources above a basic level is necessary for social relations and for accessing services and civic activities, and can reduce social exclusion among older people.