Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 October 2002
This paper discusses the material aspects of globalisation and the effects of the movements of trade, capital and people around the world on older men and women. While some older people have benefited, most notably where pensions and health care are well developed, the majority of older men and women are among the poor who have not. Free trade, economic restructuring, the globalisation of finance, and the surge in migration, have in most parts of the world tended to produce harmful consequences for older people. These developments have been overseen, and sometimes dictated, by inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) such as the International Monetary Foundation (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), while other IGOs with less power have been limited to anti-ageist exhortation. Globalisation transfers resources from the poor to the rich within and between countries. It therefore increases social problems while simultaneously diminishing the freedom and capacity of countries to make social policy. Nonetheless, the effects of globalisation, and particularly its financial dimensions, on a nation's capacity for making social policy can be exaggerated. Political will can combat international economic orthodoxy, but the evident cases are the exception rather than the rule.