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Juliane Roloff (2004)

The Role of Elderly Persons in Society and Dealing with Old People in Need of Care*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 29, 3-4/2004, p. 423-446, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

In view of a continually ageing society, the question is increasingly being asked, above all in connection with old-age provision, as to generational justice and generational solidarity, amongst others. Are there signs of a conflict, or indeed of a "war", between the young and the old? This article tries to find an answer. Using the latest results of a representative questionnaire carried out in Germany, the "Population Policy Acceptance Study", individual attitudes firstly towards the role of elderly persons in society, and secondly towards potentially dealing with elderly persons in need of long-term care, is presented. Characteristics such as region (Western and Eastern Germany), age and education were used in the analysis. Whilst some differences exist as to the degree of agreement with individual statements, in particular between the youngest and oldest respondents on the one hand and between the lowest and highest levels of education on the other, there are no general signs of a conflict between the young and the old. The majority of respondents consider elderly persons to play a positive role in society, irrespective of age and level of education. This must however be placed into perspective by stating that a relatively large number of respondents can be found with an indifferent attitude, in particular when it comes to negative statements (such as "The elderly are an economic burden"). Using the evaluation of attitudes on potentially dealing with elderly persons in need of long-term care, it can be stated that solidarity between old and young family members is intact. The majority agree that children and/or family members should take care of elderly persons when they are in need. There is indeed general rejection of the idea that care for elderly parents should not be a matter for the children.

* Original title: Die Rolle älterer Menschen in der Gesellschaft und der Umgang mit pflegebedürftigen alten Menschen (full text in German only)

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