The ICSG has four strategic objectives.
ICSG contributes to international scientific knowledge on ageing and public policy, and in doing so is engaged in building and sustaining national and European research capacity for the study of social, economic and cultural aspects of ageing.
ICSG seeks to co-produce relevant and practicable research through the formation of active collaborative research relationships with older people, representative organisations and national and international policy stakeholders.
ICSG works to establish ageing as a cross-cutting public policy focus in Ireland and in Europe, thereby influencing the formulation of policy and informing an evidence-based engagement of policy levers for improving the lives of older people.
Research Led Teaching & Training:
ICSG endeavours to develop ageing and public policy as an academic field and a focus for professional development, and is engaged in designing programmes for third-level students and people working in the ageing sector.
Using ICSG’s aim as a guiding frame, the Centre is committed to producing research that actively responds to emerging and critical gaps in scientific knowledge and policy formulation on ageing and the life course. Our work and focus therefore evolves and adapts to the needs of scientific, policy and stakeholder communities nationally and internationally. Current programmes can be grouped under four interconnected themes on ageing and the life course:
Social exclusion and inequity
Old age social exclusion continues to be a critical public policy concern for some individuals and groups of the older population. Accumulation of life risks, age-related vulnerabilities (e.g. health issues; contraction of social networks) and few opportunities to lift oneself out of exclusion can mean that exclusion is amplified in impact and prevalence in older age. Manifest as inequities in key areas of life, research on this theme investigates the drivers of multidimensional old-age exclusion that emerge from micro circumstances of individuals, meso contexts, and broader macro forces. Our work thus considers: the life experiences of older adults; the communities and neighbourhoods that they live in; the structural conditions they live through; and the social and policy institutions that they engage with. Researchers working on this topic contribute to conceptual and empirical knowledge, and policy debates concerning how issues of exclusion are represented in and addressed by public policy.
Work and Retirement
The significance of work and retirement is now well-established as a critical public policy issue at national, European and international levels. Due to concern over the projected increase in the number of older people dependent upon public pension systems, there has been a widespread adoption of extended working life policies, higher workforce contributions and stronger ties between pension rate bands and actual worked years. Different patterns of labour force participation and pension system access, however, means that some groups of the older population may be particularly disadvantaged by such measures. Research on this theme explores the impact of work life trajectories on retirement decision making and later life health and well-being experiences. Incorporating a gendered life-course lens, this work considers the role of precarious work and public policy approaches in this dynamic. Attention is also given to how fair and sustainable taxation reforms can increase the equality of retirement experiences amongst older cohorts.
Place and changing contexts
Reflecting the importance of where someone lives in older age, researchers working on this theme explore place and place-based communities as critical factors that can shape experiences in later life. Emphasising the impact of structural and social change on local contexts, research programmes are dedicated to understanding how places can be crucial enablers of societal participation and can protect against disadvantage experienced by some older people. Work on this theme considers multiple dimensions of place, including: geographical and physical aspects, embedded infrastructure; and social and cultural characteristics, and how people connect with their place and community across the life course. The notion of belonging and home, processes of change, and required public policy supports are typically central to this work. While a range of spatial environments (including urban, urban deprived, fringe, remote, and dispersed settings) are considered within these programmes, this theme builds on a long-standing focus on rural ageing within the ICSG.
Infrastructures of care and support
The availability, relevance and quality of care and support are crucial in later life. Shifts in welfare system composition, increasing privatisation and debates about risk individualisation, mean that the relationship between formal and informal infrastructures is becoming more complex and, sometimes, more ambiguous. Research on this theme considers the implications of these dynamics for the role of state health and social care actors, communities, the voluntary sector, and older people themselves within care and support processes. Work in this area can include impact assessments, evaluations and exploratory research in the areas of long-term and community care provision, the role of migrant care workers, and hidden support practices in the community. Research also considers the intertwinement of health and well being outcomes for older people and their cares, and the relevance of care and support policy and structures to the needs and agency of marginalised groups of the older population.