Exclusion from civic engagement of a diverse older population: features, experiences, and policy implications.

Project summary

In Europe’s ageing societies, being able to age healthily and actively remains a major challenge not only for older people themselves but also for wider society. Moreover, older adults continue to be at risk of social exclusion in key life domains, including material and financial resources, social relations, access to services, community and neighbourhood integration, and civic and cultural participation. While social exclusion in later life represents a major topic for research and policy in Europe and other world regions, significant gaps in knowledge and understanding persist, thereby reducing the potential for evidence-based policy development. A major shortcoming concerns the lack of conceptual development and empirical evidence on older adults’ exclusion from multidimensional civic engagement. CIVEX aims to meet this gap by investigating features of exclusion from multidimensional civic engagement in later life and older adults’ experiences of such exclusion, and by identifying evidence-based policy responses to address it. It will develop a comprehensive and interdisciplinary research project combining fundamental research and societal impact. The CIVEX consortium includes four European countries selected to represent contrasting welfare state regimes and cultural contexts: Continental (Belgium), Nordic (Sweden and Finland) and Southern (Spain).

Taking a holistic perspective, the overarching aim of CIVEX is to examine, for the first time, exclusion from multidimensional forms of civic engagement in later life. CIVEX will address five objectives linked to multidimensional civic engagement of a diverse older population: 1) micro-level variables, with a focus on a diversity and intersectionality (gender, socio-economic and ethno-cultural backgrounds); 2) mesolevel variables; and 3) macro-level drivers of exclusion; to understand how neighbourhoods and communities as well as welfare state regimes influence the multidimensional exclusion from civic engagement of a diverse older population; 4) lived experiences of inclusion and exclusion from civic engagement of potentially marginalised groups of older adults, who have been largely overlooked in previous studies; and 5) life-course perspective to assess how conditions earlier in life and at key stages of the adult life course affect individuals’ opportunities to participate in multidimensional civic activities later in life. In meeting these scientific objectives, CIVEX will produce a novel and comprehensive theoretical model to conceptualise exclusion from multidimensional civic engagement in later life.

To achieve the objectives, CIVEX will use a mixed-methods innovative convergent parallel design to compare, relate and complement both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. CIVEX also aims to optimise the balance between evidence-based and practice-based handling; ultimately coming to evidence-based practice. For that reason, CIVEX has been developed as a co-production project. Older adults themselves and older people’s organisations will play an active and crucial role in CIVEX. Older adults will not only be respondents but also co-researchers, providing an essential “insider perspective” in collecting, analysing, presenting and disseminating the data and also when developing and disseminating evidence-based policy responses. The group of older adults within CIVEX will represent the current composition of European citizens and the five participating countries in CIVEX. Older people’s organisations involved will, in turn, act as an advisory board and will work side by side with academic partners to ensure the societal relevance of the research, its translation into effective evidence-based policy recommendations, and its wide dissemination to relevant public audiences. As a result, CIVEX will show how older adults’ interests and concerns may be better represented in public decision making.

Project details

CIVEX participated in the fourth joint call on ‘Equality and Wellbeing across Generations’.

Project duration and budget

Project duration: 36 months
Total costs: €1,141,859.38


  • University of Barcelona, Spain.
    Coordinator: Dr Rodrigo Serrat
    Dr Montserrat Celdrán
    Prof Feliciano Villar
    Ms Karima Chacur
    Ms Inma Peiró
  • Åbo Akademi University, Finland.
    Dr Fredrica Nygvist
    Prof Mikael Nygård
    Mrs Marina Näsman
    Ms Emilia Häkkinen
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.
    Prof Sarah Dury
    Dr Sofie Van Regenmortel
    Mr Bas Dikmans
    Mr Toon Vercauteren
  • Uppsala Universit, Sweden.
    Prof Sandra Torres
    Dr Pernilla Ågård