The article presents some of the most remarkable findings of the 'ageing' module of the Population Policy Acceptance Survey. The results of analyses of the 'ageing' module include: the opinion of citizens on the rising number of elderly persons; statements regarding care of the elderly; statements regarding the ways governments ensure old-age benefits; and finally, preferences and expectations about age of retirement. The last part presents some of the most important policy implications. Although there is no doubt that citizens are aware of the fact that populations are steadily growing older there is, at the same time, the gross misperception concerning the exact numbers of older people in their countries. One of the first lessons to be drawn from the DIALOG study is the importance of providing better information. Respondents recognised the elderly as 'still socially useful', perceived them as 'defenders' of traditional values in society. Only a minority of respondents seemed to regard older people as 'an obstacle (or a burden) to change' - many were of the opinion that children (and other relatives) have some responsibility in caring for their elderly parents. In spite of their preference for informal care (a responsibility given to children and relatives), they were also of the opinion that above all, it is the responsibility of governments to provide the necessary services and institutions. One specific policy measure to compensate for the declining number of people at working age would be to increase employment among older people. At the time of this study, employment was particularly low in most countries among people from 50-64. Many respondents were in favour of 'abolishing existing early retirement schemes'. It is also interesting to note that the other preferred policy measure aimed 'to ensure the payment of old-age benefits' was 'to raise monthly taxes'. For a majority of respondents (69 percent), preferred age of retirement was found to be about 5 years earlier than expected age. This can be regarded as the paradox of population ageing. Although people can expect to live longer than ever before, they commonly retire before the legal age and wish to retire even earlier.
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