Irish attitudes towards ageing and the elderly in overseas development

11/12/2013 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

Guest blog by Éamonn Casey


A recent survey exploring public attitudes towards ageing and overseas development has found strong concern for ageing and older people in the developing world, coupled with limited knowledge and appetite for more information.

While the Ipsos MRBI survey for Age Action Ireland did not explore respondents’ support for overseas development [1] in itself, it did capture a strong breadth of financial donations. It also found a moderate level of public interest in finding out more about the lives and issues of people in developing countries.

Fully 84% of respondents said they have donated money to charitable organisations that work in developing countries. This was higher still among 35- to 44-year-olds (91%) and females (86%).

Respondents gave a wide spread of answers when asked about problems faced by ageing and older people in developing countries. These included poverty, living standards, health, access to basic services, social isolation and protection. The top three issues identified were: accesses to age-appropriate health services, poverty, and different dimensions of hunger/malnutrition.

Fully 88% of respondents said that ageing and older people should be specifically included in the overseas development work of the Irish Government and aid agencies.  Similarly, 88% of respondents said they support the idea of an International Convention on the Rights of Older People.

But while the stated support for older people in overseas development is high, just over one-third of respondents (37%) said they would like to receive more information about the issues they face in developing countries. This crept closer to a half (47%) among respondents aged 55-plus.

The top three means by which respondents said they would like to receive any information were: television, then newspapers and the internet (including Irish Aid website). These preferred media contrast with Amárach Research findings for Dóchas, which are that the internet generally, television, and specific aid agency websites are significantly more important than newspapers and Government sources for the public to receive information on developing countries.

The Age Action Ireland research suggests a moderate appetite for stories of positive change from overseas development and, unsurprisingly, that this appetite focuses on people’s own interests and life stage – with over 55s more interested in global issues of ageing than younger cohorts.

It also suggests the need for development agencies to ‘bring their stories of change to the people’ in interesting and engaging ways – stimulating reflection, analysis and action – because people are not sufficiently interested, given busy lives, in going out of their way to seek out this information.

[1] Latest estimates suggest 54% of the public favour of the Irish Government spending money on overseas aid (See the full survey here).


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Entry filed under: NGOs, Overseas aid. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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