Against the background of the ageing of
European societies, the University of Barcelona has developed the European
Dignity Index for Older People in a project funded by the Spanish foundation
Fundación Mutalidad dela Abogacía.
Two central aspects for a dignified life of the
aged are emphasised: on the one hand, the quality of life and the dignity of
older people and, on the other, the infrastructure and services required for
the well-being of the aged. These aspects are assessed in an index based on the
goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Index based on the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
All European countries are facing the challenge
that the proportion of older people is rising and their life expectancy is
increasing. This has many implications, for example for the financing of social
policy but also for the orientation of social policy for older people. The
European Index for the Dignity of Older People is dedicated to the latter
United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The index is based on the goals of the United
Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 goals (sustainable
development goals; in short: SDGs) are supported by all European Member States.
In 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Decade of Healthy
Ageing, drawing on 11 of the 17 SDGs.
In the index, these SDGs relevant to older
people are used and summarised in the following eight thematic areas:
life and well-being;
work and sustainable economic growth;
innovation and infrastructure, reducing inequality, sustainable cities and
justice and strong institutions.
No duplication – focus is on the society’s middle class
The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development Goals are a further development of the United Nations Millennium
Declaration. In it, governments committed to halving poverty in the world by
2015. The main innovation was that the goals were no longer directed
exclusively at the weakest in the world, but explicitly included the
industrialised countries. The target areas under consideration have also been
significantly expanded. However, the focus remains on the participation of the
most vulnerable. Progress towards the goals is evaluated at both national and
European level using comprehensive indicators (see also Eurostat).
The European Index for the Dignity of Older
People presented here is not to be understood as a duplication of existing
evaluation systems. Even though it is based on the same goals, its orientation
explicitly differs from that of the United Nations. The focus here is on the
society’s middle class and not on the participation of the most vulnerable as
in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Significance for social security
Social security systems in European countries
differ both in their organisational structure and in their orientation. Older
people are not a homogeneous group. They have different needs, opportunities
and problems. This is true for the respective country and even more so for
Europe as a whole. Certainly, the informative value of an index that looks at a
broad field of areas on the basis of a few indicators is also limited. Despite
all these limitations, the presented European Index for the Dignity of Older
People does provide important indications for any need for action.
It is precisely comparative analyses that can
reveal the strengths and weaknesses of individual social systems. The question
of appropriate benefits is of particular relevance for social security. This is
because it concerns the core task of the social security systems. The statutory
pension insurance does contribute significantly to the prevention of poverty in
old age. However, their task is to secure the standard of living in old age. In
this context, the interdisciplinary approach of the Index helps to better
understand the interplay of different national systems and policies.