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Inequality in active ageing: evidence from a new individual-level index for European countries



In the context of emerging challenges and opportunities associated with population ageing, the study of inequality in active-ageing outcomes is critical to the design of appropriate and effective social policies. While there is much discussion about active ageing at the aggregate country level, little is known about inequality in active-ageing experiences within countries. Based on the existing literature on active ageing, this paper proposes an individual-level composite active ageing index based on Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) data. The individual-level nature of the index allows us to analyse inequality in experiences of active ageing within selected European countries. One important motivation behind measuring active ageing at the individual level is that it allows for a better understanding of unequal experiences of ageing, which may otherwise be masked in aggregate-level measures of active ageing. Results show large differences in the distribution of individual-level active ageing across the 13 European countries covered and across age groups. Furthermore, there is a positive association between the country-level active ageing index and the equality of its distribution within a country. Hence, countries with the lowest average active ageing index tend to have the most unequal distribution in active-ageing experiences. For nine European countries, where temporal data are also available, we find that inequality in active-ageing outcomes decreased in the period 2004 to 2013.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mikkel Barslund, Centre for European Policy Studies, 1 Place du Congrès, 1000 Brussels, Belgium E-mail:


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Inequality in active ageing: evidence from a new individual-level index for European countries



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