Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 4

IN inside pages we inform of the International Congress 'A Society For All Ages' which took place in Alicante in May 1999, during our Euromeeting. We have to insist on the great importance that the event had. It offered excellent contributions of university professors, both from Spain and from several universities of the EU. As a whole, they presented a very useful summary, due to the novelty and present interest of the different studies on the problems that affect the elderly people, in a world in which demography and social and cultural evolution determine a new scenery that is worrying and at the same time encouraging.


We are going to translate the texts of the six reports into German, Spanish, French, English and Italian and we will send them with pleasure to the colleagues who ask us to. Here on this page we offer a brief reference of each one of them.



Policies for the elderly people and labour policies

By ALAN WALKER, University of Sheffield

This report of Professor Alan Walker has to be described as masterly. In it he studies with skill and clarity the economic, sociological and political problems that are caused by the descent of the birth rate, the prolongation of life expectancy and, simultaneously, the shortening of the period of active work. His summing-ups are an opening of optimism for the future as long as the political and social institutions adopt the adequate measures for a situation that, due to its novelty, requires a creative and original treatment. Political answers are especially needed for five points that the professor expresses in his discourse.


'Firstly, the economic challenge would be to assign bigger resources to pensions, to the health and social services, maintaining always a just distribution of the resources regarding each age. Here a great effort will be required for the prevention of dependence, disease and social alienation. Secondly, the intergenerational challenge would be the need to promote and sustain healthy relations between the generations (partially achieving the economic challenge), and this should become an open political aim, both on a national and a local level. Thirdly, it would be needed to reduce and eliminate age discrimination when it takes place. Fourthly, the challenge of long-term care would consist in the establishment of a real adaptation between the givers of the services and elderly people and their families. But, for the care in the long term and to encourage the participation of the user, additional resources are required. Fifthly, the political challenge towards the rest of the society would consist in not seeing the elderly people as passive voting objects, patients, recipients of care, etc. and see them more as potentially active participants.'


To lengthen the life has been a great success of humanity. To face the challenges that this achievement entails is to act with an elementary sense of coherence.



Third Age and Structures of Family Solidarity in Spain

By JULIO IGLESIAS DE USSEL - University of Granada

Although the title of the report situates in first place the 'Third Age', the truth is that its content is referred fundamentally to the study of the family. A documented and lucid study in which he emphasises the solidarity of the family as a key element in the social end economic framework: 'in Spain, the family is the authentic Ministry of Social Affairs'. The role of the woman as a born giver of care, and her traditional alienation in the world of remunerated work, the economic growth and the evolution of the social services are some of the parameters analysed looking towards the future. Elderly people as suppliers and on the other hand receivers of care is another significant point of the report, with the background of the change in demography.



Elderly people and economy

By PEDRO SÁNCHEZ VERA - University of Murcia.

It is evident that in sociology studies of old age 'the economic' plays a fundamental role. The economy seen from the angle of the impact of this problem in the society, and the economy seen from the angle of the personal, individual situation of the elderly person.


Dr. Sánchez Vera begins his discourse by looking at the non-monetary economy, an aspect where elderly people offer valuable contributions, especially with their family contributions and in very active and effective areas of voluntary work. The fact that the elderly have a lot of time at their disposal is a fundamental factor in this type of economy.


The objective economic situation of the elderly person is studied from very different angles with a great contribution of data and statistic figures relative to sex, age, the activity that is done, the patrimony, the family, etc. Retirement is also treated in detail, including pre-retirement and its social and economic consequences. The elderly person as a consumer presents unsuspected aspects. The many cultural deficiencies that exist, and the importance of the retired as traditional clients of savings and banking institutions is exposed, pointing out nuances regarding the sex. The habit of playing lottery games is undeniable and has its consequences, and finally a curious chapter is offered on advertising and elderly people, who are frequently treated in a negative, sentimental and sometimes paradoxical way, doing things not fit for their age.



The concept of retirement in a changing society

By MARÍA TERESA BAZO - País Vasco University

Dr. Bazo is an authority on present gerontology and her direct and accessible teaching, convinces and, consequently, influences. The times have changed very much since the famous Dr. William Osler, at the beginning of the century, affirmed that the creative, vital, and productive period finished at the age of 40. Today, the potential of elderly people is beginning to be acknowledged at all levels, and negative stereotypes are being cast aside, while real capacities and abilities are being seen, as well as the possibilities of learning new skills up to advanced ages and of compensating deficiencies with imaginative resources. It all fits in the concept of satisfactory ageing, and has deep political and social implications. The importance of the contribution of the elderly person to the wellbeing of the society by his active participation is beginning to be taken into account.


There is in perspective a wide period of a good functional health condition for elderly people and differently from other periods of life, it lacks a role, supposed norms, and can be wasted. Part time work for non profiting activities, learning… Social actions are needed to give sense to their lives. They are prepared to give all that they are capable of giving.



The role of culture in the development of the intergenerational relations

By ENRIQUE GIL CALVO - Universidad Complutense, Madrid

A very interesting communication this of Professor Gil Calvo, with original points of view, that are very reasonable and plausible, of the problems that affect the elderly people. He analyses the generation rupture from its origin, and the process up to the present situation, where a material gratitude, through public programmes centred on health, pensions and social services, hides a moral ingratitude equivalent to a 'eat and shut up' in order that the elderly step down and give no problems.


Infancy, adolescence, youth, adult age, maturity and old age are types of age more adjusted to reality than the typical classification into three classes, and each age a generation. One’s age changes, but one’s generation, the group of friends one belongs to flows in parallel until one’s death, going through the same historical circumstances. But the historical experience of each generation is unrepeatable, and cannot be shared with the rest. The only possible thing is a cultural communication by natural means, such as the family, or by institutional ones, such as work, civil participation, literature, art, mass media, etc.


Today, with his salary the adult has the power and the prestige in the family that used to have the elderly person as proprietor of the family patrimony. In this way a negative old age is invented, identifying it cynically with death, disease, and uselessness. Against this, we have to invent the positive old age, and to do this we must begin by re-establishing the institutional means that communicated the young, the mature, and the old. It can and must be done.



Eurolink Age

Christine Marking

As responsible of relations for Eurolink Age, the speaker centres her discourse on the work and the purposes of this organisation, created to defend the interests of the elderly people at the level of the European Union. Its field of performance is very wide: equality of opportunities, alienation, inability, travel, technology, care, accommodation, etc.


A basic purpose is to influence the political and legislative institutions of the Union in order to enact specific laws for elderly people, and also in order that these are taken into account in all type of official dispositions. In contact with other organisations of similar purpose, a net with members of six states, who work intensely on an experimental project financed to begin with for a year, has been established and will present its results soon. Her words reflect activity, work, movement, practical achievements, and continuous struggle in a very defined field.



Pascual Bosque (Alicante, Spain)