Aging Trends in Different Cultures

Aging Trends in Different Cultures

Study by the Institute of Gerontology at the Ruprecht-Karl University in Heidelberg on behalf of the Robert Bosch Stiftung in cooperation with the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth

In industrial nations, getting older is mainly associated with a loss of capability, innovative capacity, and quality of life. “Anti-aging” has become something of a buzzword, referring to attempts to slow the aging process or even to prevent it altogether.

In view of increasing life expectancy, there also needs to be a move towards “pro-aging” - in other words, an affirmation of aging, combined with a lifestyle that has a favorable impact on physical and psychological developments over a person’s lifetime. This raises the issue of “aging trends.” What do we think about aging? How do we deal with our own age? These questions formed the subject of the study called “Aging Trends in Different Cultures,” which was carried out by the Institute of Gerontology at the Ruprecht-Karl University in Heidelberg.

Under the leadership of Professor Andreas Kruse, the study looked at aging in seven different countries: Brazil, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Norway, and the United States. The study was backed by the Robert Bosch Stiftung in cooperation with the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth.

Second career

Demographic change is viewed as a key challenge for policy makers in all countries around the world. But it is not just politicians - companies and businesses are also increasingly being faced with the question of what they can do to train older associates to enable them to remain in the workforce for longer.

In the industrial nations that were studied, there was a prevailing conviction that the viability of each of them as an industrial location can only be secured by systematically training an aging workforce. The question of which areas are best suited to older people also arose in all of the countries. In the United Kingdom and the US there is a high level of voluntary activity by older people, often spoken of as “active aging” - something that has a long tradition in both countries.

In France and Norway particular emphasis is placed on offering training to older people, while in Japan interest is focused on a “second professional career,” which people take up in their sixth or even seventh decade.

Avoiding the subject

A notable phenomenon was observed in Brazil, a country that is seen as “young” by its own population. The term “age” tends to be largely avoided here, and instead there is a focus on efforts not to appear “old.”.

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Altersbilder in anderen Kulturen
Study of the series
"Alter und Demographie"

More Information

Radio report from SWR 4 Baden-Württemberg about the study

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Julia Hoeter
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