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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research

Thursday 9 November

Second night of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2017 at the University of Southampton. On Thursday night, the event will focus on the theme of population ageing and caregiving in the UK and in Europe.

Welfare and pensions in the UK

Will welfare and pensions really ensure we have a happy and healthy retirement?

Happiness and health during an illness or retirement is an important topic to consider regardless of age. During the night, our speakers will discuss ageing, informal caregiving and will answer your questions.


Ageing: what do we actually know? - Mr Johannes Hechler

Is the population really getting older? If so, why? How long do people stay healthy? Are there ever more pensioners and fewer payers? Or do people just work longer? Every day you get as many answers as there are newspapers. Claims and counter-claims swirl around, based on anecdotes, rushed research and personal bias, all disguised by skilful rhetoric. Luckily there is the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Office for National Statistics produces the hard evidence. You may know the ONS from the Census in 2011 or the monthly economic figures, but the ONS also estimates the number of old people in the UK and survey their behaviour. Our research is part of an international statistics system so we can compare the UK to other countries. The talk will show what type of data actually exist, what we can say about the questions above – and what we cannot.

Are you better off living with your parents and are your parents better off living with you? - Miss Natalia Permyakova

With an increasingly ageing population and lack of affordable housing across Europe, many families experience multiple changes in their living arrangements. Common scenarios include: coming back to the parental home after divorce or financial issues; parents moving in to receive informal care from adult children or provide help with grandchildren. All of these and many other reasons for intergenerational co-residence are present in the UK context. The UK picture is similar to Western Europe but is in contrast to Eastern European countries, which have a high share of intergenerational households.

What are the implications of intergenerational households for the well-being of both older parents and adult children? On the one hand, living in a small living space, providing financially and taking care of those in need can be burdensome. On the other hand, when sharing a living space, generations are more likely to support each other physically and emotionally, which can boost self-esteem and well-being. This talk will introduce the importance of ageing and informal caregiving for both younger and older generations, taking into account the effects of different socio-economic contexts across Europe.

Who cares? - Mrs Maja Emilie Fuglsang Palmer

Providing informal care for a loved one is becoming an increasingly shared experience for individuals. Informal carers are important players in ensuring that individuals in need of support continue to experience a good quality of life. Providing care for others can be rewarding, with carers often reporting increased closeness to the person cared for and giving new meaning and purpose to life.

However, providing informal care often occur alongside employment, family and social life, and can therefore also be a stressful experience with potential adverse effect on the health and financial situation of the individual carer. Understanding what motivates others to provide informal care and how we best support carers, is a central part of ensuring future care provision.

Book your FREE ticket & leave your questions here


Mr Johannes Hechler

Johannes is research officer for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). He works in the Ageing team, in which he estimates how many very old people there are in the UK (you can find the latest Statistical Bullettin here), and analyses the ageing population.

ONS People, Population & Community webpage
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Miss Natalia Permyakova

Natalia is Postgraduate research student within Social Sciences - Social Statistics & Demography - at the University of Southampton. Her research interests revolve around health and family demography in various socio-economic contexts. Her PhD focuses on men’s health and living arrangements in Russia

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Mrs Maja Emilie Fuglsang Palmer

Maja is MPhil/PhD student in Gerontology within Social Sciences at the University of Southampton.

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Special guest

Dr Yuanyuan Yin - Artist

Yuanyuan is Lecturer in Design Management within the Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton. She is currently investigating the elderly's shopping experience in major supermarkets in the UK and in China. She works with large corporations such as Tesco and Sainsbury to determine the problem areas for the elderly shopper, and works on improving the design of the shopping environment. As part this project, she developed an ageing simulation suit, which includes glasses, gloves and more to help people feeling the effect of ageing on their daily life.

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