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Precarity and the assumption of rising insecurity in later life: A critique

Gilleard, C; Higgs, P; (2019) Precarity and the assumption of rising insecurity in later life: A critique. Ageing and Society 10.1017/S0144686X19000424. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

In recent years, several authors have drawn attention to signs of growing inequalities in the ageing populations of the developed economies. Such formulations have employed the concept of precariousness to suggest that a 'new' precarity has emerged in old age. Questioning this position and drawing on data reported over the last two decades on income and health inequalities between and within retired and working-age households, the present paper argues that evidence of this 'precarity' is speculative at most and relates more to imagined futures than to empirically observed trends in the present. The ageing of ageing societies - that is the growing agedness of the older population - might imply an increase in precarity or vulnerability at older ages, but this is not a result of changes in the underlying economic and social relations of society. Instead, we would contend that it is the corporeal consequences of living longer. By conflating the various meanings of 'precarity' there is a corresponding danger that the very real changes brought about by population ageing will be underplayed, which may be to the detriment of the most vulnerable. The idea of a new precarity in later life may thus not serve the ends to which it is intended.

Type: Article
Title: Precarity and the assumption of rising insecurity in later life: A critique
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X19000424
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X19000424
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: precarity, later life, inequalities, insecurity, vulnerability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075400
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