The Demographic opportunity: Volunteering in older age
Hogg, Eddy (2010)

by Eddy Hogg

Across advanced capitalist economies, demographic change has lead to older adults constituting a large and growing proportion of the population. This demographic shift is often observed in purely negative terms, focussing on the economic burden of a larger cohort of older people (in terms of pensions, health costs etc). This fails to take into account that this demographic change is the result of large numbers of individuals living longer, well beyond state pension age, potentially presenting the opportunity to continuing enjoying active lifestyles. Katz and Monk (1993) suggest that this has contributed to a paradigm shift in the way in which we understand ageing; no longer are individuals assumed to be at a stage in a chronologically-determined ‘life cycle’, rather it is suggested that an individual’s ‘life course’ is open to unexpected turns and changes, and may be wholly unrelated to their chronological age. My research is interested in how these changes can contribute to an understanding of how older adults come to be undertaking voluntary work, through adopting a life course perspective in order to examine pathways into volunteering. This understanding of the skills, experiences and motivations that older adults bring to their volunteering will be explored alongside reflections from voluntary organisations as to how they utilise these positive attributes of older volunteers to further their work. It is anticipated that this will enable me to gain a rounded view of the contribution of older adults to voluntary organisations, and how this may fit with the Big Society agenda.

Eddy Hogg’s presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).

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