EAST stands for 'Eastern-European Ageing Societies in Transition' and is the Eastern-European Research Network of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.
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
Oxford Institute of Population Ageing
University of Oxford
66 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 6PR
To become a member of the EAST research network please send an email to George Leeson firstname.lastname@example.org 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 member profile and send it by email to: email@example.com.
In autumn 2010, EAST will be celebrating its 5th birthday. We would like to use this occasion for reflecting on what was achieved over the past years and where we want to go in coming years. We would very much welcome any suggestions on how to make EAST more useful for you!
The following presentation gives a brief overview of the history of the EAST research network at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.