Staff at Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO) – University of Copenhagen

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Making meaning of financial scarcity in old age

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The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, we explore how older people (aged 69 to 85 years) living on the edge of relative poverty experience their everyday lives, and second, we investigate how they cope with their financial situation. We examine these aspects through 16 life story interviews to understand which paths these older people believe have led them to where they are today. First, we show how the older people highlight events or decisions in their life that mainly have an individual origin placing the responsibility of their current financial situation on themselves. We argue that these accounts reflect a change in the discourse on poverty; a transformation from poverty as collective destiny to poverty as the result of individual failure. Second, we show how these older people's control strategies vary across their life spans. In earlier phases of their lives, these older people attempted actively to improve their financial situation; however, in their old age, they focus more on adapting to and accepting the situation because their advanced age makes it difficult for them to use active coping strategies to overcome financial scarcity. Third, we argue that the imprints the interviewees received growing up in financial scarcity during the Second World War and the postwar years may have instilled them with silence and modesty, thus they are likely to adjust stoically.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Volume47
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
ISSN0890-4065
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

ID: 200825029