I have been chairing the Stream "Aging as a Global Issue" at the conference Technologies of Globalization 2008 in Darmstadt. It is always very suprising who different research is across different diciplines...
On-Kwok Lai from Kwansei Gakuin University gave a really interesting overview on the current situation in Asia and in particular in Japan with regards the aging society. Learning more about ageing I find myself more often thinking the current “aging research” is more like treating a symptom and not looking at the real problem. And it seems the real problem: reduced reproduction in industrial states – basically we do not have enough children anymore. This leads to the obvious question: would researching into solutions and technologies that make it easier to raise children while working or studying not be the more important challenge?
In another talk Birgit Kasper reported from a study of multi-modal travel in Köln ("Patenticket"). In the trail they got people who have a yearly ticket to introduce other older people to public transport by providing them a 3 month flat-rate ticket for public transport in the region. The benefits seem to come from two sides: (1) people do not worry if they have the right ticket and (2) having a person that acts as a patron learning the public transport system is supported. If we look at the results a radical suggestion would be to introduce a car-city-tax (e.g. like London) and give in return free public transport to everyone – would this simple solution not solve many of our problems (economic, ecological, …) or would it create a two-tier society?
The social event was at castle Frankenstein – but surprisingly everyone came back in the morning unharmed ;-)