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The University of Southampton
Centre for Research on Ageing

Research projects

Members of the Centre are actively engaged in world-class research related to ageing over the lifecourse and older people.

Below is a summary of collaborative research projects members are currently engaged in or, have recently been engaged in.



Promoting inclusivity in pension protection and other forms of saving among men and women from black and minority ethnic communities in the UK: a mixed methods study

Resources and experiences accumulate across the life course, influencing later life outcomes. For some older individuals from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, later life comes with a higher risk of poverty compared to their White British counterparts.

This research is led by Professor Athina Vlachantoni (PI) and Dr Yuanyuan Yin (Co-I). It aims to improve the inclusivity of individuals from BAME communities in pension policy planning, and address a gap in our understanding of the socio-economic factors affecting pension protection among current and future generations of older individuals from BAME communities in the UK.

The research is produced with mid-life and older individuals, considering their financial resilience in the context of their social networks and living arrangements. To place individuals from BAME in the UK at the heart of the research, we are using innovative methods such as photo images taken by participants to describe what late-life financial planning means to them. By listening to real life narratives, we can better understand the lived experiences of individuals from BAME communities, add to the evidence on ethnic differentials in pensions, and promote greater inclusivity in pension protection.

The project also uses data from large-scale social surveys including Understanding Society and the Family Resources Survey. We also explore the usefulness of the Wealth and Assets Survey for the study of pension protection and saving among individuals from BAME groups.

We are holding events about financial adequacy in later life with individuals from younger age groups (including school-age children), older people, and local and national stakeholders; including the Department for Work and Pensions, AgeUK Southampton, Southampton City Council, The People's Pension, Citizens Advice Southampton, the Pensions Policy Institute, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pensions. This will facilitate policy, practice and public learning on pensions and other forms of saving among the BAME communities.



CPC - Connecting generations

Different generations provide financial, emotional and practical support to each other during different stages of their lives. These support exchanges interact with and impact upon major life course events. Such events include: completing education; leaving home; living with (or separating from) a partner; having children; becoming a homeowner; entering and leaving work; continuing to live independently in the community; or moving into residential care. Health, economic living standards, social networks and personal resilience are all affected by these life events, and experiences will vary by gender, migrant status, ethnicity, education, social-economic status and geographical context.

Issues of generational connection have been thrown into sharper focus by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. Changes in economic, social and family life are also taking place within the wider global context of environmental degradation and climate change. The benefits for present generations may stand in conflict with the inheritances of future generations. This has complex and wide-reaching implications for generational fairness and intergenerational justice and solidarity.

This Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project brings together CPC experts at the University of Southampton, University of St Andrews, and University of Stirling, with partners at the University of Oxford Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, and the Resolution Foundation. This research is co-ordinated by Connecting Generations Director Professor Jane Falkingham, and involves Professor Maria Evandrou (Co-Director), Professor Athina Vlachantoni and Dr Min Qin. Click here for more information.



Care networks in later life: A comparative study of five communities in Indonesia using ethnography and surveys

How can the care needs of older people be met in sustainable, fair and culturally acceptable ways? This project aims to answer this question for Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest population. It examines what care needs older Indonesians have; who provides care; what acceptable care looks like; and how care-dependent people are perceived. The project involves ethnographic research in five communities, followed by collection of household survey data and analysis of existing national-level surveys. Three ideas are central to this study. First, we consider care a cultural practice: culture shapes preferences for care providers, what counts as acceptable care, and what being dependent does to a person’s identity. This is why we use ethnography and compare ethnic groups across Indonesia. Second, care is provided by a mix of family, health-care providers and volunteers. This is why we collect data on complete care networks. Third, we understand that differences among older people are important. This is why we collect information on economic, demographic and social status and compare care among sub-groups. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and led by Dr Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill. The project team includes Dr Nathan Porath (Southampton), Prof. Eef Hogervorst (Loughborough), Dr Philip Kreager (Oxford) and Prof. Yvonne Handajani (Atma Jaya, Indonesia), as well as Prof. Tri Budi Rahardjo (Indonesia) and Caitlin Littleton (HelpAge International) as consultants.


CHEP Teaching Enhancement Fund

Emotions in PhD Research

This project is about the emotional impact of data collection on PhD students. Students are expected to work with data about sensitive topics, but can find this distressing. The aim of this project is to ascertain the extent of emotional support PhD students require, and to design training materials to address this need. The project is funded by the Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP), and is led by Dr Rosalind Willis and includes Dr Ruben Sanchez Garcia and PhD students Heather Mulkey and Paul Lewzey.


ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative

Exploring informal care provision in mid-life by linking qualitative and quantitative data in the NCDS

Existing research has shown that almost half of mid-life individuals provide support to their parents/ parents-in-law and such experience is increasingly likely for future cohorts of individuals. However, beyond empirical analyses of carers' characteristics and patterns of support exchange, our understanding of the perspectives of carers who are supporting their parents/ parents-in-law, on their caring activity and how it interacts with other areas of life (eg. social participation, identity) remains limited. This project, which is led by Professor Athina Vlachantoni and includes Dr Zhixin Frank Feng and Dr Ning Wang, will bridge this gap by linking quantitative and quantitative data from the National Child Development Study.


ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund

Global Ageing and Long-Term Care Network (GALnet)

The Global Ageing and Long-term Care (GALNet) network brings together academics, policy makers and practitioners from across a range of disciplines to share examples of experiences and best practice from different countries to inform the design of integrated long-term care services that are centred on the needs of older people. It is led by Prof. Maria Evandrou, and involves colleagues from the University of Southampton (Prof. Jane Falkingham, Professor Athina Vlachantoni, Dr Frank Feng and Dr Gloria Langat) and colleagues for international collaborating partners. More information on this dynamic and internationally leading network on ageing and long-term care around the world can be found here.


Age International, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Disease International, and HelpAge International

Understandings, beliefs and treatment of Dementia in Pakistan

The aim of the project, led by Prof. Asghar Zaidi and involving Dr Rosalind Willis and other colleagues, is to explore the understandings and beliefs of dementia among people in Pakistan, and to examine the treatment availability and experiences for dementia in Pakistan. The goal is to inform policies and programmes to raise awareness of dementia and provide better support services for people with dementia and their families in Pakistan. Click here for a dedicated webpage on this project.



The impact of social pensions on multiple dimensions of poverty, subjective wellbeing and solidarity across generations

Over the past decade a growing number of SSA countries, such as Kenya, have introduced or expanded social pension programmes for vulnerable older people as a means to securing their livelihoods and enhancing their well-being. Kenya's Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme (OPCTP) was piloted in 2007 and has since expanded to reach over 164,000 beneficiaries with monthly stipends of US$23. The readiness of governments such as Kenya's to invest in such schemes has been spurred by evidence, largely from South Africa's long established social pension, of positive impacts of pension grants on beneficiary households, for example improvements in the economic, education or health opportunities of younger household members as a result of older beneficiaries' tendency to 'share' their pensions with younger generation kin. Much less attention however has been paid to diverging analyses that raise concerns over the impacts of social pensions on the well-being of older beneficiaries and inter-generational cohesion within their households and families. This study, which is led by Dr Gloria Chepngeno Langat and also includes Prof. Maria Evandrou, Prof. Jane Falkingham and Dr Isabella Aboderin, will use a mixed methods approach to evaluate the impact of the older persons’ cash transfer programme. Click here to follow updates on this project.

Office for National Statistics

Characteristics of, and living arrangements amongst, informal carers at the 2011 and 2001 Censuses: stability, change and transition

This project aims to compare the profile of informal carers in the 2001 and 2011 Censuses as well as investigate transitions into, and out of, informal care between the two Censuses. Understanding the characteristics of informal carers in the UK is critical, as they continue to contribute to the supply of social care, and changes in the composition of the carers' population will have a direct impact on the future design of social care and the distribution of its financial cost. In addition, current demographic changes may affect both the supply of and demand for social care, for example improving life expectancy for men at older ages may increase the amount of spousal care provided by men, while population ageing is projected to place greater pressure on local governments to provide social care for older people. This research project, led by Prof. Maria Evandrou and involving Dr Athina Vlachantoni from the CRA, is a collaboration between the ESRC Centre for Population Change (Prof. Jane Falkingham), the EPSRC Care Life Cycle Programme (Dr James Robards) and members of the demographic analysis unit within the Population Statistics Division of ONS.

Public Policy @ Southampton

Fuel and food poverty among older people

Members of the CRA were funded by the Public Policy@Southampton to examine patterns of fuel poverty and food poverty among older people (those aged 60 and above) in the UK, with a view to contributing to the policy-relevant debate on the choice faced by vulnerable older persons between heating their home and eating nutritious and regular meals. The Policy Commission is a joint collaboration between the Public Policy network, the Centre for Research on Ageing, the ESRC Centre for Population Change, the USRG on Ageing and Lifelong Health and the USRG on Population Health and the Biomedical Research Centre in Nutrition and Lifestyle.

ESRC Secondary Data Initiative

Pension protection for minority ethnic groups in Britain: determinants, prospects and policy implications

A team of researchers at the Centre for Research on Ageing (Dr Athina Vlachantoni (PI), Prof. Jane Falkingham, Prof. Maria Evandrou and Dr Zhixin Frank Feng) were funded as part of the ESRC's Secondary Data Initiative in order to examine the pension protection of current and future cohorts of individuals from ethnic minority groups in Britain. The team used data from the Understanding Society dataset, and explored the determinants of pension accumulation for different minority ethnic groups, including factors associated with other financial and social kinds of resources, such as employment patterns, caring provision and family networks.


Ageing and wellbeing in a globalizing world (AgeGlobe)

Members of the Centre for Research on Ageing (Prof. Maria Evandrou (PI) and Dr Athina Vlachantoni), the Division of Demography (Prof Sabu Padmadas and Prof Vicky Hosegood) and other UK institutions, were part of an internationally collaborative project between Research Councils in India, the Netherlands and the UK, which was aimed at exploring the wellbeing of older persons in the context of an increasingly globalising world. The topics explored as part of this project included migration, health, social networks and different types of wellbeing, using nationally representative datasets from the different countries. Click here to read more about this project.


Understanding resilience in later life in a low resource setting

Professor Maria Evandrou (PI) with colleagues from the Centre for Research on Ageing (Dr Gloria Langat, Dr Isabella Aboderin) and the Division of Demography (Prof. Jane Falkingham and Dr Angela Baschieri) received funding from the ESRC in order to explore the resilience of older persons in slums in Nairobi, Kenya. The study sought to better understand resilience among older people in coping with stresses and shocks, and how some people are able to adapt and to emerge with better health and socio-economic outcomes and overall wellbeing relative to other older people in these communities.


ESRC-DFID-funded research on social protection and poverty alleviation: reviewing the evidence, assessing the impact and identifying the gaps

Members of the Centre for Research on Ageing (Dr Athina Vlachantoni (PI), Prof. Maria Evandrou and Prof. Jane Falkingham) were involved in a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK's Department for International Development, which was aimed at reviewing the evidence produced by ESRC/DFID-funded research in the area of poverty alleviation and social protection. The team explored the substantive and methodological lessons learned from such research, pointing to new knowledge relating to poverty and social protection around the world, and remaining gaps for future research.

NIHR School for Social Care Research

Acceptability of and satisfaction with social care among South Asian groups (ASC)

This project, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research, was run by members of the Centre, Dr Rosalind Willis, Professor Maria Evandrou, together with Dr Pathik Pathak from Sociology & Social Policy. Evidence indicates that black and minority ethnic groups (BME) report lower levels of satisfaction with social care services when compared with white people. Examining the reasons for such differences is an important step in improving the provision of services for BME groups. The study aimed to explore the attitudes of individuals from South Asian communities to social care services. In addition, the project investigated social care service attitudes of White British individuals as a comparison group, as well as the views of social service staff members on the reasons behind low satisfaction levels. The study results will facilitate gaining a greater understanding as to why South Asian groups report lower satisfaction with social care services, which it is hoped would in turn contribute to the more informed design of appropriate services in social care. For more information on this project, click here.

ESRC Pathfinders Initiative

The impact of migration in China and South Africa

Members of the Centre (Evandrou, Vlachantoni) were part of an international team on the ESRC-funded project entitled ‘Left behind? Assessing the impact of internal labour migration on patterns of intergenerational support and the health and well-being of children and older people: the cases of China and South Africa'. This exciting project involved collaborations between the University of Southampton, where the PI, Prof. Jane Falkingham and other project members were based (Jordan, Padmadas, Hosegood, Wahba), the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the University of Witwatersrand/ Agincourt DSS and the ‘Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies which later merged with the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV to become the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI). The research team explored the impact of internal labour migration on the health and well-being of the household members who are ‘left behind’ in rural sending areas in China and South Africa, particularly children and older people.


The Care Life Cycle

The UK population is ageing. But although older people are major users of health and social care services, affecting the demand side of care provision, at the same time the health workforce itself ages, affecting the supply side of care provision. This exciting interdisciplinary project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, brought together social scientists, complexity scientists and computer modellers from across the University of Southampton in order to model the supply of and demand for care for older persons in the UK. The project was led by Professor Jane Falkingham (PI) and included Professor Maria Evandrou, Dr Rebekah Luff, Dr Athina Vlachantoni and Dr Rosalind Willis, as well as seven other researchers from the ESRC Centre for Population Change, the Centre for Operational Research, Management Science and Information Systems, and the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation. For more information, please visit the CLC project's website here.


Centre for Population Change

The ESRC Centre for Population Change was established in January 2009, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is the UKs first research centre on population change. It is currently in its second phase. Based jointly at the University of Southampton and the National Records of Scotland (NRS), the ESRC Centre for Population Change brings together expertise from the Universities of Southampton, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Stirling and Dundee as well as the General Register Office Scotland and The Office for National Statistics. The centre undertakes research based around four themes: Dynamics of fertility and family formation past, present and future; Household dynamics and living arrangements across the life course; The demographic and socio-economic implications of national and transnational migration; and Modelling population growth and enhancing the evidence base for policy. The Centre is directed by Professor Jane Falkingham with co-investigators Professor Maria Evandrou and Dr Elspeth Graham.


Using new technologies in policy-relevant postgraduate teaching: a scoping study of using Second Life in teaching Gerontology

Members of the CRA (Vlachantoni, Evandrou, Schroeder-Butterfill) were involved in this one-year project, funded by the Higher Education Academy's Social Policy and Social Work Subject Centre (SWAP), which was aimed at trialling the usefulness of Second Life as a pedagogic tool in teaching policy-relevant topics in Gerontology. For more information on the project, please visit this page.


Left behind in transition? Poverty, social networks and social support amongst older people in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Directed by M. Evandrou and J. Falkingham, this project investigated the living conditions, financial position and social support networks of older people in the seven poorest countries of the former soviet union, that is the CIS-7: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For more information on this project, you can read the ESRC's Impact Case study feature here.


Research Group Simulating Social Policy in an Ageing Society.

Directed by M. Evandrou, J. Falkingham, P. Johnson and K. Rake. The ESRC SAGE Research Group was one of only two Research Groups funded under the ESRC Future of Social Policy Initiative. Further details of the output of the Groups is available.

Nuffield Foundation

Lifetime events and the incomes of the older population in the British, German, Swedish and American welfare states.

Directed by M. Evandrou (PI), J. Falkingham, and P. Johnson. The project investigates inequalities in the incomes of older people. It adopts a life course perspective to investigate how (dis)advantage has accumulated across older peoples’ lifetimes and the role that the welfare state has played in reducing or perpetuating such inequalities. The research uses a comparative framework and the cases of Britain, Germany, Sweden and the US are explored.

University of Southampton ‘Adventure in Research’ Grant

Migration, Transnational Networks and Identity: The Case of Older Transylvanian Germans in Romania and Germany

Directed by E. Schröder-Butterfill, this research project will examine the transnational social support networks of older Germans living in Transylvania (Romania) in a context in which large proportions of younger Germans have settled permanently in Germany. It will also investigate the networks formed by migrants from Transylvania who moved to Germany in old age.

The Wellcome Trust

Ageing in Indonesia

Directed by P. Kreager and consisting of an international team of researchers (E. Schröder-Butterfill, University of Southampton; E. Indrizal and T. S. Fithry, Andalas University, Padang, Indonesia, V. P. Dewi and P. Haryono, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia), this multi-stage research project examines old-age support networks and older people’s contributions in three rural communities in Indonesia. The project combines longitudinal qualitative and quantitative ethnographic and demographic research.

ESRC/AHRC Cultures of Consumption Initiative

Ageing and Consumption in Britain 1963-1998

This multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional project, which was directed by P. Higgs (PI) UCL, with M. Evandrou, C.J. Gilleard, I.R. Jones, R.D. Wiggins, and C.R. Victor, examined consumer culture in later life across time and across across different cohorts in Britain.

ESRC Growing Older Initiative

Family, Work and Quality of Life: Changing Economic and Social Roles

This project, which was directed by M. Evandrou (PI) with Karen Glaser, explored family and work roles in mid-life in the UK, examining longitudinal data, and caring and work histories. The research examined changes in economic and social roles across time and across cohorts and drew out the implications for policy.


Modelling Social Policy in an Ageing Europe

This grant, which was directed by M. Evandrou, J. Falkingham, P. Johnson and K. Rake, was aimed at organising a major International Conference on Modelling Policy for an Ageing Europe. The Conference took place in January 2001 and was attended by around 100 delegates from 12 different countries.


Related links

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Nuffield Foundation

UK Department for International Development (DFID)

Wellcome Trust

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

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