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The Stuttgart-based Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations (FRFG) and the London-based Intergenerational Foundation (IF) jointly award the biennial Demography Prize, endowed with EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros) in total prize-money, to essay-writers who address political and demographic issues pertaining to the field of intergenerational justice. The prize was initiated and is funded by the Stiftung Apfelbaum.
Through the prize, the FRFG and IF seek to promote discussion about intergenerational justice in society, and, by providing a scholarly basis to the debate, establish new perspectives for decision-makers. The invitation to enter the competition is extended especially to young academics from all disciplines. Collaborative submissions are also welcome.
For the 2016/2017 prize, the FRFG and IF call for papers on the following topic:
“Measuring Intergenerational Justice”
Submissions will be accepted until 1 July 2017. Entries should be 5,000 to 8,000 words in length (excluding figures and tables). All documents required for a submission, including the full call for papers and formal entry requirements, are available upon request by email to Antony Mason at antony(at)if.org.uk. For future reference, and because we may be organising a symposium around the Prize, we kindly ask you to also send us a short biography (one paragraph) when requesting formal entry requirements. Submissions for the essay competition will also be considered for publication in the Intergenerational Justice Review (www.igjr.org).
In recent years, there has been a rising interest in measuring and comparing intergenerational justice and the well-being of young people, both across different countries (spatially) as well as over time (temporally). While the results of these indices have been found to vary in the details, they all point in a similar direction: most industrialised countries are imposing increasing burdens on younger and future generations, as is evidenced, for example, by their high sovereign debts, youth unemployment and poverty, and perennial ecological crises.
In a 2013 study published by the Bertelsmann Foundation, and led by Pieter Vanhuysse of the UN’s European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, a total of 29 OECD states were compared on the basis of four indicators: public debt per child; the ecological footprint created by all generations currently alive; the ratio of child- to elderly-poverty; and the distribution of social spending among generations (“elderly-bias indicator of social spending”, EBiSS). These measures were then aggregated into the “Intergenerational Justice Index” – the first of its kind.
A similar attempt to capture the wellbeing of young people is the “Youthonomics Global Index”. Published in 2015 by a France-based think tank of the same name, it analyses the situation of young people in 64 Western and non-Western countries by means of no less than 59 different social, economic and political indicators.
The most recent in line is the “European Index of Intergenerational Fairness”, launched in early 2016 by the Intergenerational Foundation (IF). Designed as a quantitative measurement of how the position of young people has changed across the EU, its 13 indicators include housing costs, government debt, spending on pensions and education, participation in democracy, and access to tertiary education. The index’s findings indicate that the prospects of young people across the EU have deteriorated to a ten-year low.
Entries to the competition could approach the topic through a broad range of questions, including:
- What are the methodological pitfalls of measuring intergenerational justice, and how can they be avoided? Are the existing models internally valid, and to what extent do they allow for generalisation? What are the potential sources of selection bias and measurement error?
- Are the respective indicators by which they measure intergenerational justice sufficient and appropriate, or should they be supplemented? If so, how exactly? Are they conceptually sound and well operationalised? Do they allow for replication?
- In a cross-sectional or time-series comparison, how well do “ageing societies” such as Germany, Sweden or Finland respond to the challenges of intergenerational justice? In particular, how – if at all – do they succeed in balancing the welfare spending between the young and the old, and what measures ought they be taking in this regard?
- With regard to the country rankings, is intergenerational justice, as measured by the different indices, a function of some other set of variables – i.e., how do they correlate with alternative rankings, socio-economic or other, and what might this teach us?
- What promising policy options are there for reducing existing injustices between the young and the old? How might they be implemented?
- What measures of institutional design could be taken in order to prevent the marginalisation of young people and future generations in political decision-making? For example, should suffrage be extended or even universalised to include the currently disenfranchised, and what would be the prospective effects of such a move?
Note that these are non-binding suggestions: participants are strongly encouraged to come up with their own essay questions or research puzzles, as long as they pertain to the overall topic of this call for papers in a sufficiently clear way. Submissions are welcome from all fields of social science, including (but not limited to) political science, sociology, economics, and legal studies. Philosophers and/or ethicists are invited to contribute applied normative research.
Leach, Jeremy / Broeks, Miriam / Østensvik, Kristin S. / Kingman, David (2016): European Intergenerational Fairness Index: A Crisis for the Young. London: Intergenerational Foundation. http://www.if.org.uk/archives/7658/the-if-european-intergenerational-unfairness-index-2016.
Vanhuysse, Pieter (2013): Intergenerational Justice in Aging Societies: A Cross-National Comparison of 29 OECD countries. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann-Stiftung. https://www.dcu.ie/sites/default/files/afu/Intergenerational_Justice_OECD.pdf.Youthonomics (ed.). (2015). Youthonomics global index 2015: Putting the young at the top of the global agenda. Paris. www.youthonomics.com/youthonomics-index.
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