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The Politics of Ageing

children , families , older people , young people



Large-scale demographic and social shifts mean that life for those aged over 65 is subject to increasing change and flux. These have affected older people’s lifestyles, living arrangements, work patterns, social lives and economic situations. At the same time, those aged over 65 increasingly complain of feeling lonely and unhappy, of experiencing fear of crime or alienation from mainstream society and existing evidence suggests that mental ill health is rising among this group.

Current research

In 2008, ippr began a landmark project on ageing, social change and emotional wellbeing. The project has three substantive aims:

  • First, it will investigate the impact of the changing social context of old age on emotional well-being in later life, using indicators such as loneliness, unhappiness, fear and non-clinical depression.
  • Second, the work will aim to understand and overcome the obstacles to a greater political focus on older people – obstacles which have prevented policy from taking the emotional wellbeing of older people seriously.
  • Third, the work will establish the ethical, social, economic and business case for proper, long-term investment in older peoples’ emotional well-being.


  • Ageing and Well-Being in an International Context (October 2009). This report opens up the policy debates surrounding population ageing beyond the traditional realm of healthcare and pensions. It explores how the well-being of older people can be incorporated into four other areas: relationships, work, learning and the built environment. These were all identified in the first phase of ippr’s Politics of Ageing project as important drivers of well-being.
  • Policies for Peace of Mind? Devolution and older age in the UK  (October 2009). This paper considers the changing landscape of policy and practice for older people since 2000 and how this varies across the four countries of the United Kingdom.
  • Older People and Wellbeing  (July 2008). This report, the first in a series on older people and wellbeing from ippr, describes some of the key social trends in the UK and assesses how these may be impacting on older people and their wellbeing.
  • International Comparisons and Best Practice, forthcoming (Summer 2009). 
  • Publication of final report, forthcoming (November 2009). The report will include data analysis, fieldwork, case study analysis and policy reviews.

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