HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Friday, December 9, 2022

Intergenerational Solidarity

Alan Gutterman (Independent), Intergenerational Solidarity (2022):

Aging is a natural progression of the life cycle and society will always have persons of different ages who need to learn to live alongside one another. One of the most consistent themes in the debate regarding the realization of the human rights of older persons is the need to strengthen “intergenerational solidarity” between and among all levels of families, communities and nations in order to achieve social cohesion and a society for all ages and build a foundation of formal public welfare and informal care systems. Proponents of intergenerational solidarity have argued that intergenerational ties can be valuable for everyone and recognizes the significant contributions that older persons make both financially and in providing care and education to younger family members. Intergenerational solidarity can also be important in combatting problems that impact everyone in society, such as climate change. This chapter describes the shared expectations of persons at all stages of the life cycle regarding the aging of individuals and the succession of generations and the creation, allocation and transfer of the resources that are available to support society, the challenges to intergenerational solidarity presented by ageist stereotyping of older persons, the social security systems that provide the legal context for intergenerational solidarity and intergroup contact theory as a tool for forging ties between generations. The chapter also addresses the questions of whether intergenerational solidarity has been an effective strategy for older persons, suggesting that perhaps it would be better for older persons to stop fighting culture wars that have attempted to marginalize them as workers, consumers and citizens and leverage their tremendous clout as consumers and votes to realize their equal rights.

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