Intergenerational solidarity

Policy challenges and societal responses




Zaidi, A., Gasior, K. & Sidorenko, A. (2010). Intergenerational Solidarity: Policy Challenges and Societal Responses. Policy Brief 7/2010. Vienna: European Centre.


The dilemmas facing the European Union countries associated with population ageing have until recently been articulated in two ways:

  • the financial sustainability of public welfare systems, and
  • the adequacy of retirement incomes and basic social services.

The concept of social sustainability, though less clearly defined, encompasses both these challenges while addressing also the awareness of the need to ensure intergenerational solidarity in countries experiencing the demographic transition. In such ageing societies, the notion of social sustainability requires the enabling of practical, mutually beneficial and satisfying relationships between generations.

This Policy Brief addresses these inter-generation policy challenges and appraises the progress made so far within international policy frameworks (from UN and the European Commission) while also reporting on the opinions of European citizens on the challenges of intergenerational solidarity. The results are drawn from the Flash Eurobarometer survey of 2009, conducted by the GALLUP organisation, sponsored by the European Commission.

There is no shortage of mention of intergenerational solidarity in UN policy frameworks, starting from Copenhagen (1995) for the International Year of Older People (IYOP), through to Madrid (2002) for Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), to Berlin (2002) for Regional Implementation Strategy (RIS), and in León (2007) for a review of the MIPAA/RIS, and also in multiple communications from the European Commission as well as Lisbon Treaty (2009).

  • As for responses, a key finding is that European citizens believe in the common fallacy of worksharing - that older people working later into life would result in fewer jobs for younger people. This can only negatively affect public opinion and policy decision-making, while also damaging the case for raising the retirement age. A strong verdict is given by Europeans against the performance of their governments in promoting a better understanding between the young and the old, in particular by citizens of Eastern European countries.

The Brief is based upon Asghar Zaidi’s presentation to the first day Plenary Session, "Policies and Actions in Europe for an Active and Healthy Ageing", at the Spanish EU Presidency event "Conference on Active and Healthy Ageing", held at Logroño (La Rioja), 29-30 April 2010, which celebrated the European Day of Solidarity between Generations.

More details on the Spanish EU Presidency event can be found here.

Spanish translation courtesy of IMSERSO - Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociale facilitated by the organisers of the EU-Presidency event in Logroño (La Rioja). Translated by Javier del Castillo Pintad.