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EAST stands for 'Eastern-European Ageing Societies in Transition' and is the Eastern-European Research Network of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.

Research Projects in Eastern-Europe:

The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing has an extensive research programme in the EU countries and is developing its research capacity within Eastern Europe.

Ongoing cross-European Research Projects include:

  • Advancing Knowledge of Telecare for Independence and Vitality in later life (AKTIVE) (Hamblin)
  • Intergenerational relationships in bilingual families (Harper, Mann, Bianchera)
  • Between Job and Care: Conflict or Opportunity? – A European Comparison (Hoff, Hamblin)
  • Working Family Carers of Older Dependents in Europe (Hoff, Leeson, Kaiser)
  • Age Discrimination in Social Care (Leeson)
  • Migration in Response to Population Ageing (Leeson)
  • Migrant Health and Social Care Workers (MILES) (Leeson and Hoff)
  • Replacement Migration in Scandinavia (Leeson)
  • Grandparenthood (Harper, Leeson, Mann)
  • Impact of Migration on Families (Harper, Leeson, Aboderin, Hoff)
  • Bulgarian Health & Social Care Workers in Greece (Harper, Ruicheva)
  • Family Care in Denmark and Germany (Leeson and Hoff)
  • Danish Longitudinal Future Study (Leeson)
  • Homelessness in Later Life (Leeson)

Coordinator: Dr. George Leeson

About EAST

Working closely with colleagues throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the OIA undertakes collaborative research on issues of ageing and assists in capacity building through its training and mentoring programmes.

In recent years, gerontological research has become very popular in the context of growing awareness of population ageing and the resulting changes of social structures and institutions (family, welfare state, etc.). Although population ageing set in much later in Eastern Europe than in other parts of Europe, the demographic trends of the 1990s and 2000s (dramatic drop in fertility, mass emigration of many younger people, and slow but continuous rise in life expectancy) let us expect a much more rapid demographic ageing in the East than in Western or Northern Europe. Many, if not all, Eastern European societies are ill-prepared for yet another dramatic societal transition, having not quite completed the previous one from socialism and planned economies to capitalism and free market economies.

However, speed of ageing processes and institutional adjustment to these changes as well as social conditions faced by older people vary widely within Eastern Europe and within Eastern European societies (in rural vs. urban areas, for example). While some countries (e.g. Slovenia, the Czech Republic) begin resembling demographic patterns familiar from Western societies (low fertility and increasing longevity), others like Russia, the Ukraine or Lithuania are only slowly recovering from declining life expectancies while sharing low fertility levels with other Eastern European societies. Likewise, pensioners in Belarus, Latvia or Moldova face much harsher socio-economic circumstances than senior citizens in Croatia, Hungary or Poland.

EAST is aiming to bring together individuals with a research interest in ageing in the post-communist societies in Central Eastern, South Eastern and Eastern Europe. Research on ageing in the region, particularly research looking into the social implications of an ageing population, is still quite a young discipline. As a consequence, there are not many people doing this kind of research – and quite a few feel isolated from others working on similar issues.

EAST is trying to help both more senior scholars and emerging researchers to make contact with each other, to learn about research on ageing as well as about each others’ work, and to develop joint research projects. We want to support you in establishing Gerontology as a respected academic discipline taken seriously by other academic disciplines, policy makers, and the wider public in your countries. Moreover, we share with you a keen research interest in ageing issues in Eastern Europe, so we would love learning about your research and your views and would be really interested in engaging in collaborative research with you.

At present, nearly 200 researchers from Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, East Germany, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Ukraine, as well as some researchers with an interest in ageing issues in Eastern Europe based elsewhere in the world subscribed to the EAST mailing list. Nevertheless, we are always keen on getting to know other people working in this field and would love to learn more about you and your work.

The EAST network welcomes everyone interested in the research on ageing in the above-mentioned countries. For more information on the network please feel free to contact:

Dr. George W Leeson

Research

1. Scoping review of gerontological research in CEE

Objectives:

  • to identify existing gerontological research in CEE (research themes, scholars/institutions doing research on aspects of ageing societies)
  • To establish contacts with academics working in this field
  • To build a research network (which later became EAST)
  • To develop a strategy for future research on CEE

Researchers: Dr Andreas Hoff
Funding: James Martin School of the 21st Century, Oxford University
Time: Sep – Dec 2005
Method: Semi-structured expert interviews n = 21 from 8 countries; desk review
Countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia

Key findings:

  • 3 overarching research themes: age discrimination, older workers, intergenerational family relations and support
  • For more details on the study see: Hoff (2006.1) ‘Research on ageing in CEE’

2. Tackling poverty + social exclusion of older people in the EU

Objectives:

  • To explore + evaluate social inclusion policies in the 25 EU member states
  • To identify ‘examples of good/best practice’
  • To discuss if old-age specific social exclusion indicators are required

Researchers: Dr George W. Leeson (PI), Dr Andreas Hoff
Funding: Help the Aged
Time: Feb – Jul 2006
Method: expert interviews with governments, NGOs, academics
Countries from CEE: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia

Key findings:

  • Lack of family networks and family support = highest risk factor for poverty / social exclusion
  • Other major risk factors: income deprivation, living in rural areas
  • In CEE also poor housing + lack of social care major risk factors
  • For more details on the study see: Hoff (2007.2) ‘National, regional and local social inclusion strategies’ [link to PDF]

3. “Working Carers between Labour Market and Intergenerational Solidarity” Seminar Series

Objectives:

  • To identify typical conflict patterns
  • To explore reconciliation strategies employed by family carers
  • To investigate determinants of carer’s wellbeing

Researchers: Dr Andreas Hoff (PI), Dr George W. Leeson, Angelika Kaiser

Partners: Dr Camellia Hancheva (Bulgaria), Dr Zsuzsa Szeman (Hungary), Dr Sarmite Mikulioniene (Lithuania), Dr Jolanta Perek-Bialas (Poland), Dr Agnes Nemenyi (Romania), Dr Valentina Hlebec (Slovenia)
Funding: John Fell Fund
Time: Jan 2007 – Jan 2008
Method: 3 international workshops with presentations + policy briefs
Countries from CEE: Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia

Key findings:

  • Lack of data on family care, let alone reconciling with employment
  • Reversal of gender roles: from full employment to housewife?

Other key outcome:

  • Research project “Carers@Work. Between Job and Care - Conflict or Opportunity?”, funded by Volkswagen Foundation

4. “Migrant Labour in the Eldercare Services” Seminar Series

Objectives:

  • to review models of eldercare provision in European welfare/care regimes;
  • to elucidate trends in the employment of migrant labour in the (formal/informal) eldercare workforce, the role of the migrant eldercare worker in home-based settings in particular;
  • to analyse how the use of migrant labour in different care/welfare settings impinges on the financial and demographic sustainability, equity, cost effectiveness and quality of eldercare.
  • to analyse the future development of migrant labour in eldercare

Researchers: Dr George W. Leeson (PI), Dr Andreas Hoff, Iva Ruicheva, Angelika Kaiser
Partners: Dr Zsuzsa Szeman (Hungary), Prof Ewa Fratczak (Poland), Dr Agnes Nemenyi (Romania), Dr Valentina Hlebec (Slovenia)
Funding: NORFACE
Time: Jan 2007 – Jan 2009
Method: 4 international workshops with presentations + policy briefs
Countries from CEE: Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia

Key findings:

  • Rapid change: many CEE countries transformed from ‘migrant sending’ to ‘migrant receiving’ countries within less than a decade (for example Poland)
  • Families in sending countries suffer due to absence of primary family care-giver
  • Lack of reliable data

Research Directory

  • Gražina Rapolien?
  • Gaiane Safarova
  • Ondrej Schneider
  • Dr. Zsuzsa Szeman
  • Lucie Vidovi?ová
  • Professor Jerzy Franciszek Krzyszkowski
  • Dr. Sarmite Mikulioniene
  • Dr. Mariana M. Mourgova
  • Dr. Marta Sougareva
  • Simona Hvalic Touzery
  • Margarita Gedvilait?-Kordušien?

Membership information

To become a member of the EAST research network please send an email to George Leeson george.leeson@ageing.ox.ac.uk who will then add your email address to the EAST mailing list. Membership in EAST is free. The mailing list is used to inform members of news on ageing issues in/about Central and Eastern Europe, such as conferences/workshops, publications, statistics, funding opportunities, scholarships, updates of the EAST website, as well as specific EAST activities. Furthermore, a feature of EAST is a ‘research directory’ where EAST members provide information about their research interests and methodological skills, which could be used by other researchers looking for partners in joint research projects.

If you would like to add your profile as well please fill in the EAST Membership Form and send it by email to: george.leeson@ageing.ox.ac.