Theme of the 2018 Conference


Longevity is one of the most important drivers of demographic changes. Nowadays, individuals in highly developed, industrialized countries can expect to spend roughly a quarter of their lifetime (20+ years) after retirement (Vaupel, Carey, & Christensen, 2003). Old age can thus be described as the future for individuals and for society at large, and thus have important implications for individuals and for society.

For the aging individual, old age is more or less a blank space during which one’s life can be free from external regulations, obligations, and constraints, and more shaped by one’s own plans. While this provides freedom for the individual, it is also a challenge that requires planning and preparation for an increased risk of age-related illnesses, functional declines, and social exclusion or loneliness (Luhmann & Hawkley, 2016; Paul, Ayis, & Ebrahim, 2006).

From a societal perspective, the extension of old age and the burgeoning of the older population pose a potential threat to the stability of social welfare systems (e.g., pension, healthcare). This has led to political debates, such as reductions in welfare benefits and entitlements, increased retirement ages, and an emphasis on individual responsibilities for personal provision in old age. These political debates, in turn, affect individual perspectives on old age and aging. This conference focuses exactly on this intersection between societal and individual perspectives on old age and aging, aiming to describe and explain what people expect with regard to their age, how they cope with the challenges of aging, and how do they perceive aging as a societal phenomenon (e.g., time management in old age, preparation for old age, views on aging issues).

In particular, this conference will address these questions by providing a differentiated perspective on individual constructions of old age and aging in different life domains (e.g., financial, housing, religion). In combination with the domain-specific approach, this conference will take an international format to investigate the phenomenon of aging by comparing individuals of different age groups, socio-economic backgrounds, and countries with regard to their views on and attitudes towards aging. Identifying and explaining specific patterns among different populations for domain-specific views on aging provide insights into how societal contexts and individual experiences interact with each other on aging process.