Being socially connected is a universal need and a fundamental human right, but a considerable number of older people are socially excluded. Older people have an increased risk for social exclusion due to the accumulation of factors associated with age, such as poor health, loss of relatives and friends, and lower physical and social activities. Social exclusion is not only unwanted in its own right, but also because of the disruptive consequences for mental and physical health, leading to substantial social, economic and health expenditures for societies. Some people, such as older women and Roma, are especially vulnerable and have a doubled or even tripled (Roma) risk for social exclusion.
The overall aim of the project is twofold.
1) Enhancing research-based knowledge on the multidimensional nature of old age social exclusion and its consequences for mental and physical health of older adults and
2) Identifying social policy implications that take into account the national context and identifying strategies for creating conditions that minimize social exclusion of disadvantaged groups. Actions to minimize social exclusion are crucial in addressing the health needs of all, and the health needs of marginalised groups in particular.
For these purposes, we employ a conceptual framework consisting of five domains of social exclusion (social relations, material and financial resources, services, neighbourhood and community and the civic society), and three levels of influence (micro meso macro), allowing thus to explore the multidimensional nature of social exclusion and contributing to state of the art theory in the field. The life course perspective enables us to depict the social pathways leading to exclusion and its health outcomes.
In our research, we employ a European comparative perspective and a mixed method approach. With the help of quantitative analysis, we aim to describe and explain levels of social exclusion in later life, to assess the multidimensional nature of social exclusion, to understand the associations between old age social exclusion and health inequalities in older adults, and to identify which social groups, in addition to women and Roma, are at risk for social exclusion in old age in the various groups of European Union countries and Norway. Qualitative research in Romania will deepen our understanding of old age social exclusion by analysing the lived experiences of older adults with respect to social exclusion, and the pathways to social exclusion.
Our endeavour will reveal some of the turning points in the lives and health of participants in our research in order to theorize how the individual’s choices and changes are embedded into the mechanisms of social exclusion. We complete the mixed method approach with policy analysis on Romania and Norway by looking at the potential role of current social protection frameworks for older people in reducing social exclusion in later life. An analysis of best practices of social inclusion of older people in Norway may provide suggestions for more integrative social protection schemes and to design a set of policy measures to stimulate the social inclusion of vulnerable groups in Romania.
The project uses an integrated plan for scientific dissemination and dissemination for stakeholders aimed at awareness, understanding and participation, and social change.
The project further contributes to research capacity building in Romania. It builds on the already previous good collaboration between two partners in the project, with the purpose to facilitate the knowledge transfer to Romania and to contribute to increasing application of the research results, while enhancing the performance of Romanian research internationally.