Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Ageing intergenerational relations and the life course

Researchers at the University of Southampton are stimulating dialogue and generating impact by enhancing the cultural and policy understanding of the key issues of ageing, intergenerational relations and the life-course.

Research challenge

Ageing and its impact on individuals and society is a key issue for social policy agendas. As people around the world are living longer and the number of old people in society is increasing, countries around the globe are having to prepare themselves to provide for the demands of an ageing population.


In the UK today people aged 60 and over constitute 23 per cent of the population; by 2030 this will have risen to 28 per cent and by 2050 to 30 per cent. Although older people make up a higher proportion of the total population in the developed countries of Europe and North America, the absolute number of older people currently living in less developed countries exceeds that living in more developed countries by almost 270 million. 

By 2045, for the first time in human history, the number of people aged 60 and over will exceed the number of children (aged under 16), and by 2050 the global population of older people will exceed two billion, with the older population increasingly concentrated in low developed countries.

Our solution

Two specialist research centres at the University of Southampton are playing a pivotal role in exploring the impact of an ageing population.

The Centre for Research on Ageing (CRA) is an internationally renowned centre that examines key issues in ageing. Their work informs policy and debate at local, national and global level and tackles some of the most important issues facing us in the 21st century.

The Centre for Population Change (CPC) is based at the University of Southampton in collaboration with four Scottish universities – St Andrews, Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde – and the Office for National Statistics and the National Records of Scotland. It is the UK’s first research centre with a specific focus on improving the understanding of the drivers of population changes and the implications for public policy and society.

To enhance the understanding of the key issues of population ageing nationally and internationally the recent research has focused on the following inter-related areas: 

  • Intergenerational relations
  • Intra- and inter-household transfer of economic and social resources
  • Differences in economic and social resources within and between groups

What was the impact?

Research from Southampton’s two specialist centres is having a significant impact on the major issues of ageing, intergenerational relations and the life-course. Their work has stimulated dialogue between researchers, policy-makers and the general public, and has enhanced cultural and policy understanding in these areas.

How to get to 100 and enjoy it!

CPC developed and adapted an interactive exhibition called ‘How to get to 100 and enjoy it!’ that toured the length and breadth of the UK from October 2014 – February 2015. The exhibition visited a variety of venues in 7 cities, ranging from shopping centres to children’s science museums, to ensure the research reached audiences that do not usually engage with academic research. 

To accompany the exhibition a set of free educational resources was developed, making the research accessible to a younger audience. Liaising with educational experts, including Education Scotland and Princes Trust Wales, ensured the resources complimented the National Curriculum and were effective for schools and youth groups. The teaching materials were used in conjunction with a guided tour of the exhibition by pupils, or as standalone classroom lesson. 

To engage with decision makers, private-view events including talks from academics and policy makers, were delivered at each tour location. These offered policy makers and practitioners the opportunity to speak to research leads and explore further details of the exhibition content.

The Active Ageing Index

An international project coordinated by Professor Asghar Zaidi of the CRA developed a new analytical tool known as the Active Ageing Index (AAI). The AAI measures how countries perform in terms of tapping into the potential of their older populations, with the aim of highlighting good practices to promote active and healthy ageing across Europe.  Governments and policy-makers are using AAI indicators to demonstrate that investments in active ageing strategies can be cost-effective and contribute towards the strengthening of societies. 

The AAI evidence base has been used by a number of countries to introduce new policy changes or review their existing approach to active ageing. Latvia, Slovenia and Malta have developed an active ageing strategy with reference to the AAI; Estonia included AAI data in its Welfare Development Plan; and Poland introduced a new long-term seniors policy for 2014-20, developed after the country had a particularly low ranking in AAI results. Germany has been reviewing the AAI measure for its use as a comparison across its regions. Spain, Italy as well as Poland have constructed sub-national level AAI to draw on the active ageing experiences within their countries. Thus, the AAI is a useful tool for policy-makers to identify ways to improve the lives of older adults.





Ageing and its impact

Key Publications

Share this case study Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings