Report on the Labour Force Participation of Seniors and Near Seniors, and Intergenerational Relations
Overview of Intergenerational Relations
Social cohesion and social capital describe the characteristics of a society that represent the strength and number of social connections and relationships between community members including trust, reciprocity, and civic engagement. These connections between individuals are important as they encourage membership and participation in community organizations and serve to build social solidarity, mutual dependence, understanding, and cooperation; values that unite all Canadians and characterize Canadian society.
Intergenerational relationships in Canada are difficult to measure due to their complexity and breadth, extending throughout all milieus of society. While limited research in this area exists, various indicators have been applied to characterize the state of intergenerational relations, and challenges, within Canadian society.
Intergenerational Relations within the Family
Examinations of intergenerational relationships within the family tend to focus on informal caregiving relationships. Although the link between generations remains fundamental to the family, evidence suggests it is less focused on obligations than in the past, such as giving basic care to elderly parents or taking care of grandchildren on a regular basis. Today relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are more negotiated, reflecting an increasing desire for autonomy and to maintain a ‘good distance’. The stability of these relationships can also be affected by increasing changes in family structures due to divorces and new pairings.
Despite shifts in attitudes towards the provision of informal care to aging relatives, population aging may increase the need for families to provide informal care to a growing number of seniors, while at the same time placing financial, emotional and physical stresson middle generations who will have to provide care and support to both younger and older family members.
Intergenerational Relations within the Workplace
Evidence of intergenerational challenges also exists in the workplace. A 2009 National Survey on Generations in the Workplace revealed some sharp differences in how the generations perceive each other, many of which mirror popular, and often negative, generational stereotypes based on perceptions, rather than reality.
While evidence suggests that different generations possess differing work styles and work-life values, it has also been shown that managing generational differences and similarities in the workplace can optimize organizational performance and improve work environments.
Intergenerational Relations within Society
In Western culture, aging is often associated with decline, dependence and frailty.
Population aging further impacts intergenerational relationships as it raises fundamental questions about how resources are shared between generations. Concerns may include fairness and sustainability of pay-as-you-go programs, which may disproportionately burden younger generations; disagreement over whether seniors have already “pre-paid” or should continue to pay for services; and potential pressure to devote more public resources to seniors, as they account for growing number of Canadians. Indeed, various polls suggest that many Canadians believe an aging population will be a burden to Canadian society.
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