In the first, double issue of The European Journal of Social Quality, the concept of social quality was explored from a variety of perspectives, as work in progress. Continuing this endeavour, this issue focuses on ‘Age and Autonomy’. These terms are offered as starting points rather than taken for granted concepts. The discussion of the themes of independence, dependence, and interdependence in the first issue continues here with a focus on a topic which is on the political agenda throughout Europe, North America, and elsewhere: demographic changes. Increases in life expectancy and decreases in birth rates in many countries, changes – often different for men and women – in the proportion of the life cycle in formal paid work, and the longer, more active period of older age contemplated by large numbers of people are major social challenges. With regard to older people, increased activity and participation as well as the need for support and care are aspects of a complex picture that are often obscured in political debate.

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