VERONIKA BÍLKOVÁ CYIL 7 ȍ2016Ȏ The answer obviously cannot be a simple yes or no. It first of all depends on the definition of older people one adheres to. Embracing a broad definition – older persons are what a concrete society makes of them – would most likely lead us to a negative answer, since there would be very few features that those meeting such a broad definition would share with each other. If we, however, opt for a more narrow definition, linking the concept of older persons to the process of ageing, the result could be different. Ageing, involving an increase in life expectancy and a change in the ratio of young and not so young people, is a global phenomenon. As the 2015 UN Report on the World Population Prospects reveals “life expectancy at birth rose by 3 years between 2000–2005 and 2010–2015, that is that is from 67 to 70 years /…/ and is projected to rise from 70 years in 2010–2015 to 77 years in 2045–2050 and to 83 years in 2095–2100”. 25 Benefiting most from this development are inhabitants of countries in Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, where the increase in life expectancy has been (and is projected to continue to be) quite rapid. This entails that “the proportion of the population above a certain age rises. This phenomenon, known as population ageing, is occurring throughout the world” . 26 Whereas it should come as quite a pleasing piece of news, suggesting that we all have a chance to live longer, sources discussing ageing give, albeit often unintentionally, a rather dim view of the phenomena, 27 focusing primarily on “challenges”, “problems” and “risks” linked to it (health problems, 28 potential collapse of the pension systems, 29 etc.). This, in turn, has an impact on the social image of those who are seen as the cause of such challenges, problems and risks, i.e. older persons. Within the debate on ageing, older people are primarily defined by their chronological age and although the threshold of old age might differ among continents depending on the average life expectancy, it is usually set at around 60 (with people over 80/85 sometimes considered as a special subcategory 30 ). As both official and academic sources have documented, such older persons are indeed the object of stereotypes that can, and do, 25 World Population prospects: 2015 Revision, Volume I: Comprehensive Tables, New York: United Nations, 2015, pp. xxiii-xxiv. 26 Ibid., p. xxv. 27 Some actors seek to outbalance this trend, presenting ageing as an opportunity rather than a problem. See, for instance, WHO, World Report on Ageing and Health, Luxembourg: WHO, 2015. 28 See, for instance, JACOBZONE Stéphane, CAMBOIS Emmanuelle, ROBINE Jean-Marie, Is the health of older persons in OECD countries improving fast enough to compensate for population ageing?, OECD Economic Studies, No. 30, 2000/I; or VERBRUGGE, Lois M., Longer Life but Worsening Health? Trends in Health and Mortality of Middle-Aged and Older Persons, The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly. Health and Society, Vol. 62, No. 3, 1984, pp. 475-519. 29 See, for instance, TORP, Cornelius (ed.), Challenges of Aging. Pensions, Retirement and Generational Justice, Palgrave, 2015. 30 The term fourth age is sometimes used for this age group (contrasted to the term third age used for people over 50/60/65).