Europe is and further will be facing new challenges related to the consequences of demographic change. Among other socio-demographic transformations, population ageing is inevitable in most European states due to long-term demographic trends. Therefore, social and health policies are focusing more and more on the circumstances and effects of longer lives, e.g. with regard to promoting active and healthy ageing, encouraging longer working lifetimes and designing new public-private pension arrangements to ensure adequate material well-being in old age. But what about those individuals who do not remain active and healthy as they age, are exposed to socio-economic disadvantages, deteriorating health conditions or other individual stress factors? Moreover, has the vulnerability of different groups changed due to the socio-economic transformations of the last decades? How have policy changes that were introduced as a response to new social and economic structures affected the social vulnerability of different groups?
This discussion paper seeks to sketch out social vulnerability as an analytical perspective to better understand the current situation and the long-term trends of social vulnerability in different welfare state regimes and under various political and historical settings. It is written within the scope of the project "On the edge of societies: New vulnerable populations, emerging challenges for social policies and future demands for social innovation."