Intergenerational Justice and Public Policy in Europe

European Social Observatory (OSE) Paper Series, Opinion Paper No. 16

17 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2014

Date Written: March 27, 2014


The essay summarizes European findings from the Bertelsmann Stiftung report 'Intergenerational Justice in Aging Societies' (Vanhuysse, 2013). Sustainability is the moral starting point for developing this four-dimensional snapshot intergenerational justice index: ‘enough and as good’ ought to be left by each generation to the next. I show that EU member states occupied 8 of the 9 highest positions on the pro-elderly bias of social spending in the late 2000s. Poland was in pole position as the most pro-elderly biased European welfare state, followed by Southern and Eastern European countries, and Austria. A new section, entitled 'The special trouble with Central Europe,' argues that adverse labor market, lifestyle and social policy cultures in the past two decades, combined with fast population aging in the next two decades, add up to a bleak ’generational politics’ picture for Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. The essay briefly discusses policy options for boosting intergenerational equity, ranging from the obvious (early childhood investment) to the radical (proxy votes for children).

Keywords: equity between young and old, sustainability, pro-elderly spending, aging welfare states, social policy bias, debt per child, ecological footprint, child poverty, Central Europe

Suggested Citation

Vanhuysse, Pieter, Intergenerational Justice and Public Policy in Europe (March 27, 2014). European Social Observatory (OSE) Paper Series, Opinion Paper No. 16, Available at SSRN:

Pieter Vanhuysse (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK 5230 Odense

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