Moritz Heß, Elias Naumann, Leander Steinkopf
Population Ageing, the Intergenerational Conflict, and Active Ageing Policies – a Multilevel Study of 27 European Countries

Journal of Population Ageing, 2017: 10, issue 1, pp. 11-23
ISSN: 1874-7884 (print); 1874-7876 (online)

In the scientific and the public debate demographic ageing is sometimes perceived as an unstoppable “grey tide” which will inevitably lead to a conflict between the old and young generation. In this paper we empirically evaluate whether we find any evidence for an intergenerational conflict in Europe and which factors might influence its severity. In particular, we answer the following questions. (1) Is there a conflict between the interests of the younger and the older generation? (2) Does the strength of the conflict increase with population ageing? And finally, (3) can a policy of Active Ageing, i.e. better integrating older generations into society, moderate the conflict? We answer these questions in a comparative study of 27 European countries using data from the Eurobarometer 2009. Our results show a moderate conflict between generations. Compared to spending preferences of the younger generation, older people are more likely to support increased spending for old age at the expense of educational spending. Contrary to expectation, generational conflict does not increase with population ageing. Linking country differences in the strength of the generational conflict to the degree of population ageing with multilevel regression techniques we do not find any evidence that the conflict is increasing In a final step of our analysis we evaluate the potential of generational policies - measured with the Active Aging Index - to mitigate the generational conflict. Intergenerational conflict is weaker when older people actively participate in the political life and are visible in society, suggesting Active Aging policies as a means to mitigate intergenerational conflict