Theoretical Challenges and Social Inequalities in Active Ageing

Per H. Jensen, Jakob Skjøtt-Larsen

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Active ageing has been discussed in international political organisations and among re-searchers as a major means for combatting the challenges of demographic ageing. This study aims to make a critical-theoretical and empirical assessment of the active ageing concept, challenging the active ageing discourse from two different angles. First, an assessment of the theoretical framework of active ageing shows that the conceptual framework is undertheorised, lacks conceptual and analytical clarity, and fails to propose clear contributing factors and barriers. The second part presents an empirical analysis of the concept of active ageing guided by the following research question: is active ageing realistic—and for whom? Using Danish data subjected to multiple correspondence analysis, it is found that active ageing at the individual level is preconditioned by health, education, having good finances, etc. Furthermore, a Matthew effect of accumulated advantage is found; that is, older adults who are blessed in one sphere of life are also blessed in others, and such inequalities in old age are the outcomes of social life biographies (i.e., cumulative advantages/disadvantages over the life course). Thus, empirical findings indicate that active ageing may be an elusive goal for a large segment of older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9156
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Health
  • Preconditions for active ageing
  • Social life biography
  • active ageing


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