Policies for older volunteers: A study of Germany and Italy, 1990-2008
Kersbergen, K. van.
Tilburg, T.G. van
MetadataShow full item record
Older people increase their well-being and contribute to the community when they volunteer. Therefore, policy-makers sometimes consider supporting older volunteers. However, they reach different conclusions on whether they should introduce policies for older volunteers, and on what policy would be the most suitable. This article studies how policies for older volunteers emerged in Germany and Italy, both countries having one of the oldest populations in the world. It explores the political discourse on older volunteers, and how this discourse translates into policies. To do this, the article presents data collected in expert interviews and document analysis. Findings show that German policy-makers stress the contribution of volunteering to older people's well-being and have introduced policies for older volunteers. Italian policy-makers, in contrast, frame older volunteers as social service providers and have decided not to single out specific age groups in their policies for volunteers. Moreover, the policies are influenced by the policy-makers' perceptions and path-dependencies, meaning policies and institutions that were introduced in the past. These findings suggest that whether or not policies for older volunteers emerge depends less on the characteristics of the older population and more on the society and its political traditions.