We are pleased to invite you to this international conference on, The Impact of Ageing addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by ageing in Europe and Asia.

Our interdisciplinary panels bring together outstanding, world-renowned demographers, economists, experts in social and labour law and biomedical researchers from East and West. They will draw parallels and show complementarities between the European and Asian experience in ageing. You will have the  opportunity to learn from the different findings in a unique cross-cultural and cross-national context.

Although both Europe and Asia are expected to experience rapid population ageing over the next 50 years, they will do so at different rates and from different starting points. Consequently countries in both regions risk facing a sharp slowdown in economic growth and, in some cases, an unsustainable increase in public expenditures on pensions, long-term care and health. These economic and social challenges can be met through increases in productivity growth, greater recourse to immigration or a rebound in fertility rates.

Comparisons of some Central and Eastern European countries with Southeast Asian countries that recently underwent political changes remind us that the position of older people in a given society is often similar to that of disadvantaged groups, when limited state capacity makes the primary role of family networks indispensable for the support for older people.

Recent research shows that many of the so-called perceived differences, for example in family support systems, pension coverage, welfare regimes and labour market patterns are exaggerated. You might see that nuclear family systems are not unique to Europe , nor is family support only important in the Asian context. The discussion of the future pension systems and ways of reaching excluded groups of older people is as active in Europe as in Asia.

What we will be asked, moreover, is a change in attitudes toward work and retirement. A longer life can be welcome as an opportunity to fulfil unmet aspirations and projects, but it may also be a burden, especially for those who are unprepared and frightened by the impact of ageing.

In some countries with pronounced ageing of the population a new agenda of age-friendly employment policies is being implemented to make work an attractive and rewarding proposition for this "silver generation."

Former “baby boomers", now in their fifties and sixties are eager to learn how to extend a healthy lifespan by improving the quality of life through the restoration and reconstruction of the impaired immune system. There is no doubt that the current biomedical picture of ageing presents us with an intriguing jigsaw puzzle: On the one hand we might slow down the ageing process by reducing our food intake, and opt for hormone supplements, or, on the other, we might start storing our T-cell system in a bank when still young.

The visions are breathtaking and we invite you to attend this conference to discover and help explore the far-reaching and significant range of options open to us.

Impressum: © 2006, Gabriele Sinigoj, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria