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Research project Ageing (well) in rural Sweden - possibilities and challenges for impoverished older women

In Sweden the rates of poverty among people over the age of 65 are highest in rural areas, and the majority of poor elders are women. This project aims to explore how it is to age as a woman in rural Sweden.

Today many of Sweden’s rural municipalities are characterised by rural depopulation, dismantling of local services and weak infrastructure. In addition, we live in a time of great demographic changes, especially with regards to our increasing life expectancy and a growing age difference between a young urban population and an older rural population. Almost 15 per cent of Sweden’s pensioners also live below the EU poverty line; a threshold set at 60 percent of the national median income. The vast majority of poor pensioners are women.

Against this background the project aims to explore how it is to age as a woman in rural Sweden. Using participatory and qualitative methods, involving close collaboration with impoverished older women, local stakeholders and local pensioner’s organisations, the project seeks to answer how micro- (e.g. individual life histories) and macro-factors (e.g. inequalities based on gender, age and place) affect the possibilities of ageing well in rural areas. It further examines the consequences of changing rural environments in older women’s everyday lives. The project is geographically located in Värmland and Västerbotten.

The results of the project will contribute to discussions around women’s ageing, and the organisation of socially sustainable, gender equal and age-friendly rural communities.

Project members

Project managers

Anna Gustafsson

PhD, Director of Studies undergraduate level

Department of Social Anthropology
Anna Gustafsson