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Ageing, Education and Human Capital


Thu 27. 8.  11:00 - 12:30
room FA 203

Unequal social participation in later life: Disparities in volunteering and educational activities in Germany


Simonson, Julia (1); Vogel, Claudia (1); Hagen, Christine (1); Motel-Klingebiel, Andreas (2)
1: German Centre of Gerontology, Germany; 2: National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life (NISAL), Linköping University, Sweden

The concept of active ageing comprises the maintenance of societal participation throughout the life span into old age. ‘Good’ ageing in line with this activity paradigm develops into a starting point of social inequality rather than being its result. In our study, we investigate the access to and dynamics of volunteering and educational activities depending on social and spatial aspects of inequality. Our analyses (descriptive and multi-level analyses) are based on two waves (2008, 2011) of the German Ageing Survey (DEAS), which is a nationwide representative cross-sectional and longitudinal survey of the population aged 40 and older in Germany. Results reveal that societal participation is socially and spatially structured: Individuals of a lower social class are less often involved in educational activities or in volunteering - both, in middle and later life. Moreover, our findings indicate that individuals living in economically disadvantaged regions are less likely to participate than in economically strong regions. Longitudinal analyses show that individuals living in advantaged districts more often remain active over time than individuals living in less advantaged districts. In addition, disadvantages cumulate in case that low individual resources overlap with poor economic conditions in the living area. Therefore, aiming to improve the participation of individuals of lower social classes in later life, measures to facilitate participation on the local level should be taken to enhance opportunities for volunteering and educational activities.