CfP: Getting Old in Eastern Europe. Social, Political and Economic Dimensions of Ageing in the Past and Present

Call for Papers for the 11th Annual Conference of the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS) on “Getting Old in Eastern Europe. Social, Political and Economic Dimensions of Ageing in the Past and Present“. The submission deadline is February 15, 2024. The conference will take place from June 27 to 29, 2024.

East and Southeast Europe present a unique situation when it comes to ageing: fertility has declined fast to very low levels; emigration rates are high whereas immigration levels are low; mortality is relatively high, healthcare systems are weak and unhealthy life-styles widespread. High Corona-19 mortality rates and low life expectancy are obvious consequences. At the same time, pension systems face huge challenges and poverty rates among older persons are high. Observers often frame ageing in terms of “decline” or “crisis”, instead of highlighting its potentials and tackling the root causes of the social predicament of old people. How did old people in East and Southeast Europe end up in such a difficult situation? What dilemmas does the region face today? And what are the likely scenarios for the future?

At the same time, any study of these problems must take into account the heterogeneity of ageing and other demographic trends in East and Southeast Europe. The demographic, social, and economic characteristics as well as policy responses vary from country to country and indeed within each country. The situation requires a solid comparative analysis which considers intersectional inequalities, including gender, ethnicity, residence, and education. This conference asks: what economic, social, and political factors influence ageing, and how does ageing affect social relations, economic potential, and policymaking? Historically, what factors have contributed to the creation of institutions supporting the older population, and which specific aging patterns and practices can be detected in East and Southeast Europe through the 19th and 20th centuries?

The 2024 Annual Conference of the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies will investigate ageing today and the historical dimensions of this process from multiple perspectives. We seek to highlight the economic, social, and political aspects while also inviting contributions that address future scenarios. The conference aims at cross-disciplinary dialogue. We therefore invite proposals from different social sciences, including history, economics, social anthropology, political science, public health, and sociology, that address the central questions of the conference. While we want to focus on East and Southeast Europe, we also encourage comparative and transregional perspectives. We also want to explore the impact of the international level on the region. We invite contributions applying qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches.

Paper proposals should address any of the follow themes:

  • Public perceptions of and discourses about ageing, including the production of expert knowledge
  • Economic consequences of ageing at the micro- and macrolevel
  • Policy responses and political attitudes
  • Social consequences of ageing, including relations between generations
  • Old people as agents of change
  • Care practices and institutional responses, including questions of the built environment

Keynote speakers: Alissa Klots (University of Pittsburgh, Department of History), Eduard Jongstra (UNFPA, Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia)
Conveners: Ulf Brunnbauer, Vladimir Kozlov, Kathleen Beger

The conference takes place in cooperation with the research project “Transforming Anxieties of Ageing in Southeastern Europe” (funded by the VolkswagenStiftung) and the Leibniz ScienceCampus “Europe and America in the Modern World”.

Applications should be sent to in one PDF file. The file name should include the name of the author. The application must include: an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short CV (max. 2 pages) including your institutional affiliation, contact details and most important publications.

Important dates

February 15, 2024: Deadline for paper proposal submissions
Early March 2024: Notification of acceptance
June 10, 2024: Deadline for full paper submissions

The conference language is English.

IOS Regensburg will cover accommodation costs of presenters and support their travel costs (in case of co-authored papers of one speaker).