Is this the softest decade of the generation ever?
A. Braun: If you could sit down now, we can go on. Now I can warmly welcome Henning Dochweiler here with us. Once again we tried to ask him a little beyond the borders of his little Viking country, so not only to look at Denmark, but also to let his gaze wander a little around Scandinavia. That's why we wrote NORSAM in the title line, as if it could all be illuminated in an hour and a half. Thank you very much for coming. Procedure as usual: you introduce yourself a little and then off you go.
Henning Dochweiler: Thank you for the invitation, which I once again gladly accepted. It's an old acquaintance between us and I was already sorry when you wrote me about the future prospects for the academy, especially since I come from a folk high school myself, which also has its difficulties. But at least I hope that this institution, that is, these discussions, these Freudenstadt forums, can somehow be continued, even if perhaps not in Freudenstadt.
Interjection: In Denmark!
H. Dochweiler: Denmark would be an option, but the big question immediately is which language? But maybe we can somehow come to an agreement in Dutch, that's so nice in the middle. In any case, I would like to thank you for these many opportunities to talk - I think it is already the fourth invitation - and wish you all the best.
This time you have chosen a beautifully ambiguous title for me; "Ex NORSAM lux" sounds somehow Latin, at least two of the words, with the third one, NORSAM [NORSAM = (umbrella organization for the) cooperation of the Nordic elderly associations], one cannot really see whether it is genitive or ablative; in other words: does that mean that the light from the north is over, translated directly, or does it mean that there is still light from the north? Obviously I have a choice, right?
I should try to shed some light on this question. It is of course based on the observation that the Vikings - and we are all Vikings from the countries you mentioned there - that they have probably rested on their laurels for too long. It was already a heyday when it came to politics for the elderly, for example in the decade 1985 to 1995. That was also the reason that you found your way to Denmark for the first time. But it does seem that it was a "slow climb", that we have lost a little momentum in the Nordic countries. But, and I would like to come back to this at the end to explain why it is not so far that the light has gone out.
As for my background: I was in Austria for a total of 13 years; first I headed the Danish cultural institute in Salzburg and then in Vienna. And culture is a very broad term for us, it also includes social policy, for example. And it inevitably turned out that senior policy became the most important field. Because it coincided with this period, which I mentioned earlier, the interest from abroad has mainly focused on the welfare society and there again mainly on senior policy. And that's why we have made a lot of study trips, organized a lot of seminars under the title “Age is not a disease”, “Give life to the years!” Precisely those catchphrases that you are of course also familiar with from other contexts. What was interesting for other countries, in my case for German-speaking countries, was the shift to care in one's own home. The slogan was clear: "as long as possible in your own apartment". You know it well enough. And we have tackled that pretty consistently; no nursing homes have been built since 1987, and no old people's homes long before that; the term has been abolished altogether. Instead, the focus was on building old - and handicapped - accessible senior citizens' apartments. And in this good decade, a little more than 50,000 - the number is now approaching 55,000 - of such apartments has been built. Private two-room apartments, not institutions, but normal apartments, usually around 65 square meters in size; The kitchen and bathroom are of course part of it. Certain requirements have been written into the law and for them
just introduced a stop in the construction of the nursing homes, so that now only almost exactly 5 percent of the elderly live with us in nursing homes. This number still refers to those over 67, because until recently our retirement age was 67.
Mr. Schippers, I also read this number in your current comparison of numbers. The number has now been reduced to 65, which is still the same for women and men. This retirement age has been lowered and, at the same time, various incentives have been created so that the elderly no longer take early or early retirement as they used to; that was previously possible from 60. It's still possible, but there are various financial rewards for waiting at least until 62. The actual retirement age, when you retire, was with us and still averages 61.3 years and you want to push this age up a bit, in any case to make it a little more flexible than has been the case up to now.
As I said, we were quite radical with this new method at the beginning and of course we had to create the appropriate conditions so that the elderly could receive care in their own homes if necessary, and that means medical care as well as domestic help. And that was of course and still means “help around the clock”. Because that is then the only way how one can avoid that seniors who have some kind of ailment, even if only a small one, but which presupposes that they are turned once during the night or need an injection, not immediately into one Nursing homes must, where experience shows that the need for care increases to 24 hours a day and night, because that is where care is available. The catchphrase for this was "Using your own resources". And in the meantime, for a long time now, all Danish municipalities have introduced this mobile service around the clock, so that in principle it works so that everyone can stay in their own apartment.
In the meantime, however, this catchphrase has been weakened a bit, it is no longer in your own apartment, but rather "in the appropriate apartment". This is a small change, but it means a lot. It means
above all greater willingness to compromise. The fact is that although nursing homes are no longer being built, so-called senior centers are being built instead. But these are not institutions, but these old-age apartments around an activity center, so that the purpose of a nursing home is fulfilled, namely that the help can be provided very quickly. And of course we should keep in mind that it is important that around 85 percent of all seniors, and that really means all seniors, regardless of their age, live independently.
In these senior centers, which are built instead of nursing homes, it is generally the case that around these activity centers, i.e. a larger hall and rooms for mobile services, there are 48 to 60 apartments that are inhabited by senior citizens. And it is often the case that there are more apartments suitable for elderly people in the wider area. This means that the staff who work in the center can also be used as a mobile service. That means it is flexible, the same mobile units are providing the services in this center and the district around it. In principle, they are all private apartments, including those in this center, which are then all connected to the mobile services.
D. Klettner: Does the staff who work there also have an apartment there or do they come from further afield?
H. Dochweiler: They come from far away.
D. Klettner: There are no apartments for normal families in the centers?
H. Dochweiler: Not in the center, no. So of course, if we look at the wider area, the mix is quite normal. In our country, around 15 percent of all apartments have been built by cooperatives and it is quite normal that the municipality makes a contract with the cooperatives that the apartments on the ground floor are built to be handicapped and elderly, and those on the floors above are completely normal can be freely assigned. But in the center, have afterwards
You asked not. Otherwise, the ground floor apartments with a small garden are usually very small, but still furnished to suit the elderly.
Interjection: Isn't there a danger of the elderly being ghettoized, shouldn't we take the elderly into the middle of the community instead of pushing them to the edge and into skyscrapers full of elderly people?
A. Braun: It is not on the edge and there are no high-rise buildings.
H. Dochweiler: No, but of course you can't know that. So it is that the principle applies as long as possible in your own apartment, and then you need these so-called suitable apartments, the apartments suitable for the elderly, and they are neither built in a concentrated manner nor placed on the outskirts of the city. From time to time there is the renovation of existing nursing homes that are no longer needed. But, and that is perhaps the difference to Holland as well as to Germany, the plots are not that expensive and we have enough space in and of itself to go up and down with us. In some of the new senior citizens' centers, this construction often coincides with a district renovation, as I think you also noticed during your visits to Denmark. So this problem of ghettoization is always latent, of course, but we don't actually treat it as a problem. We have to look at this in a large, historical context: Denmark was also occupied in World War II, but it suffered very little war damage. We preserved the fabric of the building and then, let's say, we were able to renovate it organically. That is not the problem with us, there are others.
H. Krappatsch: Is access for the elderly to these apartments rationed, are there income limits?
H. Dochweiler: No, there are no income limits. It is the case that a pensioner with us pays no more than 15 percent of his income in rent. And that means that if you only receive the so-called national pension, this is this basic pension, which is now granted to everyone over 65 years of age, then you only pay 15 percent of it as rent. Then jump
the commune is then subsidized by the state, but that is administrative technology, so there are no restrictions. But of course the question also remains, how do you get such an apartment? In the meantime, however, so many such apartments are being built that there are no longer any waiting lists in this sense, not even for the care apartments in existing care homes. If you have a very specific wish, i.e. want to move into a certain neighborhood, then we can experience waiting lists of up to 3 months, but that is not much in principle.
The new idea, and I also think it was this idea that interested foreigners at the time, was the combination of, in principle, a higher quality of life because you could get the necessary care in your own four walls at lower costs. At the time, there was a heated debate about whether it really costs less to use mobile services than to build nursing homes. But, as you know, nursing homes are very expensive and the principle behind home care is that it is only provided to the extent necessary.
And that then also became the problem of how the municipalities that are responsible assess these needs. Because the municipalities have the key and can turn it. There are of course framework regulations from the state that must be complied with, but there is room for maneuver, which was then used by at least some municipalities.
It wasn't a problem at first; In contrast to some other countries, including Germany, our municipality is responsible for all social policy, including senior citizens policy. There are volunteer organizations, but not to the same extent as yours; but to the extent that they exist, they too get their money through the communes. That means that the municipality can organize this whole operation, the municipalities keep an overview. The senior citizens, too, because they can turn to someone in charge, namely the responsible contact person in the municipality; and of course that means that you can coordinate very well. And of course you can't simply transfer that to other countries, and you didn't do that either.
A. Mayer: The term municipality, is that the municipality, the city or the district?
H. Dochweiler: 30 years ago we had a municipal reform with the purpose of giving the municipalities more leeway, that is, we wanted more decentralization. And there they apparently went the opposite way, namely significantly reducing the number of municipalities, from around 1,400 across the whole of the country - we are 5.2 million inhabitants - to 275. That means that a municipality in our country has an average of 19,000 Residents. That means from 3,000 to 470,000, namely Copenhagen. And the idea was and still is that the commune can thereby build up its own apparatus that can actually carry out this whole decentralized policy. And in the course of these 30 years the municipalities have been given more and more tasks, so that now the municipalities actually make 68 percent of all public expenditure. In this context I must also mention that the state still collects two-thirds of all public revenues, i.e. direct and indirect taxes, levies, etc. But the state then sends half of this money back in the course of a settlement procedure so that it can be spent again via the municipalities. And this compensation is based on so-called objective criteria: how many senior citizens, how many school-age children, how many km of road. In this context also briefly: The municipalities collect their own taxes. So we pay state taxes with us, we pay district taxes - we have 14 districts or regions with us - and the local taxes too. And that means that local politicians have a certain amount of leeway, or you could say that residents have the opportunity to influence the standard of service through local taxes. That means that if the pensioners get together and are active, they can put considerable pressure on local politicians, who are now around a quarter of all voters.
D. Klettner: If they get together!
H. Dochweiler: Yes, they do. There are very large national organizations, two very large, one more civic, if not par-
Partially politically oriented and a more trade union - social democratic organization: the bourgeois organization has around 400,000 members, and the social democratic organization around 450,000 members. In addition, there are of course many local organizations and there are senior councils in all municipalities by law. They now have the right to be heard, but cannot take any decisions. They just have to be heard by the politicians and that is precisely where a political problem lies, because the seniors now want to have more direct influence and will probably get it too. Because now the forum has been created for it at the local level.
A. Braun: So these two organizations reach practically all senior citizens: With 5.2 million inhabitants and a little under 20% old people, the degree of organization is very high.
Interjection: Are the organizations in the senior citizens' councils, can you say that?
H. Dochweiler: Yes you can. So that of course means that the members of the local councils have a relationship with it; they are likely members of one of these two national associations.
Well. I was in the process of explaining this system, because it is a little different from yours and it is the same everywhere in the Nordic welfare model. I have always said Denmark now because, of course, I know it best, but in principle in the other countries too we have the principle of universality and not the insurance system that you know so well. And that means that this system runs through the tax, that everyone contributes and that in principle, of course, everyone benefits from this system, which is therefore not tied to the labor market. Seniors are not measured by whether they were active on the job market or only worked at home.But of course that is a principle that is now being challenged - and that is another problem area that I will come to at the end - and this system, many Danes believe, is now being called into question by the EU because most of the EU member states yes have the insurance principle. And that is also the reason, yes it is the predominant reason why the Danes
the majority voted against the euro. And that brings me to the headline of this article in the first place: many Danes firmly believed that their pensions and this social security system in general would be threatened by the EU in old age. You know - Alfred Braun has just mentioned this - that our Prime Minister has sent the other Prime Ministers of the member states a letter in order to get a guarantee from them, so to speak, that this was not intended. But the whole circumstance, how it was even discussed, unsettled many retirees and many simply said no out of fear.
This fear was of course stoked and exploited by a certain political direction, and in this context I must also mention that we in Denmark, in the Nordic countries and in Scandinavia have this tendency towards nationalism. I believe that one of the main problems in our global age is that we pay too little attention to the fact that our everyday lives are increasingly influenced by globalization and this technological development, which of course goes hand in hand with globalization. We have on the one hand this trend towards cosmopolitanism that many of us all over the world are too
are at home - at least there's a McDonald's where you can have Coca-Cola, there's MacIntosh and there's MTV - everywhere. There's this Mac World term coined by an American researcher, Benjamin Barber; and there is a reaction against it for the same reason. Namely from those who do not come with you. And I believe that this is a serious threat to our democracy, because this democracy is still tied to national borders for the time being. We do not yet have any examples; the EU is certainly not an example of how democracy can also function internationally. The test must first be made to ensure that this is possible; I think it should be done too. But the risk is that the concept of democracy is perceived nationally, that the internationalists cannot do much with the fact that democracy becomes a democracy for the weak. And I think we should be very attentive to that. We should quickly find a way between one extreme of globalism, that is, that we are all guided by the global economy, but not by any global democracy, let alone by a global ethic, and on the other hand, as a reaction to this, this " new nationalism ". These are both extremes and we have to find a middle ground. Personally, I think the EU will play an important role in this. Many Danes, obviously the majority, do not believe that at the moment. It should be added that there is, however, a large majority in favor of European cooperation. But in all fairness I have to add that it seems that it is supposed to be a multi-speed Europe. So unlimited yes, as the heading of this forum says, but at different speeds. And I seriously believe that this vote in Denmark will be the beginning of the development of a Europe with several circles, concentric circles or different speeds, whatever you want to call it. We have already seen how the Danish vote affected Sweden, Great Britain; the question remains, of course, how the effect would have been in Germany, in France, etc., had they also put in a vote, which they will not.
Interjection: You can make referendums, we are forbidden to do so.
A. Braun: We do not prohibit referendums, that is a complete mistake.
H. Dochweiler: Yes, but it's not done here; I also think the French once had a vote, a referendum with a narrow majority, on the Maastricht Treaty, where the Danes once voted no, in the early 1990s. Well, that's the way it is, we also know from Switzerland that these popular polls or referenda tend to have a conservative effect. And then you can behave politically as you want. But we not only have the possibility, we also have the constitutional obligation to hold such referendums; nevertheless we will not hold an EU referendum in the next 6 or 7 years; I would at least be very surprised if the politicians dared to do that now.
I still have some factual information about the Nordic countries. With a total of 23 million inhabitants, with a population structure like in the EU, but at least as far as Denmark is concerned, with an above-average number of senior citizens. Of course, the Scandinavian countries also have differences. I also did not mention Finland earlier, Finland is an ardent EU supporter, also with regard to the euro; for good political reasons, I am only thinking of the neighborhood, namely the eastern one. The Norwegians don't want it at all, and certainly not now. And that means that the Swedes and Danes remain as skeptics and probably also exceptional cases who obviously want to keep their own pace. But, and that was the difference this time with 1992, the no at that time, we will not be able to stop the others who want to move faster, that is France and Germany above all, Holland too. That was clearly signaled this time.
We have very high employment rates in these Nordic countries. Over 80 percent of 15 to 64 year olds are on the labor market, and it has already been mentioned that the proportion of women, especially in Denmark and Sweden, is very high. 78 percent of all women between the ages of 15 and 64 are in the job market if I look a little closer-
he 37 percent of women between 55 and 64 are gainfully employed, which is significantly more than the EU average.
A. Braun: That's seven times as much as ours.
H. Dochweiler: And for men between 60 and 64, so that you can compare, it is still 48 percent who are gainfully employed. Also significantly more than the EU average. So we work a lot, only 37 hours a week, by the way, but compared to other countries, a lot of them work. But that also means that the care resources in the families are minimized, the women are on the job market to take care of the elderly and the children of others and also to teach them; so they are included in public services. In Denmark, as I know the numbers best, we have 800,000 public employees. And 85 percent of it locally, i.e. in the municipalities. That is quite a high number, even in comparison with most other countries.
And with that I come back to the commune. So it is up to the municipality to do anything at all if a social case arises. The municipality regulates the work of the health nurse, the kindergartens, the school system, the sick pay, the free house help system and also the medical help system; the municipality provides aids, home furnishings, home remodeling, rehabilitation, old-age-friendly homes and, as we say, this people's pension, that is, this basic pension. And that means, as I said, the municipality pays two-thirds of all public spending. In general, if we put health and social affairs together, that alone accounts for 55 percent of all public expenditure; It should also be noted that the total tax burden for us is 51 percent, direct and indirect taxes combined, so that we come to a very high figure, namely around 30 percent of the gross national product. That means that very large amounts of money are set in motion, very high transfer payments; more than 20 percent of the gross national product is used for direct transfers. And then that is the third problem I want to talk about. The fact is that our entire social system now functions in such a way that 80 pro
percent of all Danes pay 80 percent of all Danes, which means that the transfer payments now include so many people that 80 percent are now affected. Including, of course, unemployment benefits; The unemployment rate has fallen in our country, is now around 6 percent, but we are still talking about quite high payments.
The basic pension that I mentioned, including the allowances that everyone receives who only have to live on the basic pension, is the equivalent of 1300 marks a month. Effectively, i.e. net, because pensioners pay very little or practically no taxes if they only have the basic pension. Most of them have more than the basic pension: I have just seen in the figures from May of this year that 16 percent of all Danish pensioners only have the basic pension, the rest then have a labor market supplementary pension or, that is, and / or, one Private pension, i.e. private insurance, which was usually negotiated by collective bargaining, where the employer then normally pays 2/3 and the employee 1/3 himself. However, this is voluntary or negotiated according to collective bargaining agreements and is not part of the public security system. But it poses a big problem in itself, because the gap between those who only live on the basic pension and those who have a supplementary pension is widening. And that will become a political problem - it is already in and of itself - and we are also discussing whether this universality should be abolished in the basic pension. So far we have been, we are very proud that everyone is included. That was the principle, but now the question is of course asked if one should not concentrate more on the weak old people; that is the 16 percent who do not have a supplementary pension, that is the 15 percent who need care at all. And then just say that big earners, ship owners, etc., millionaires, don't get a basic pension. They are doing that at the moment because it is a universalistic principle. This is a discussion for us that is also very important.
I wrote down a few more numbers, but I think I'll leave that to the discussion; I somehow get the idea that you are very fond of discussion. Because I would like to come to the problem areas, in any case be sure that we can do it. I tried to say that our system - and that means not only the Danish, but
The Nordic system in general - is based on universality, on public measures, on this attempt at redistribution through taxes. Then there is decentralization, so that the municipalities play a major role, have the reins in their hands within a framework law that is of course passed by our parliament.
And in all of these fields, in all of these areas, we have problems. Namely, first of all, where are the volunteers in this system? Where is the network in a system where I am not responsible for my elderly parents, where the state, the municipality, cannot hold me financially responsible, even if I earn well. And now the Danes are generally no worse, no better either - neither are the other Nordic countries - than the Dutch or the Germans. We also visit our parents when they are old, we also take care of them, but we don't have to. And of course that also means that if a problem arises, we point to the municipalities and say, please, the problem must be solved. I paid taxes, my parents paid taxes, please. And the network, the family, the friend network can fall by the wayside. We are trying to find a way to preserve universal rights and at the same time better integrate these networks, whether one can create incentives there.
That is one problem area, and I have already touched on another, namely the transfer payments, that so many pay to so many that we will probably have to tighten them up.
A third major problem affects our municipalities: liberalization, which is spreading through all countries, including Denmark, and liberalism, which clearly triumphed in 1989, have resulted in not only the word socialist falling into disrepute, but in many cases also the word social. Perhaps not as strong in our country as in some other countries, but at least we have terms such as outsourcing and downsizing, which do not sound as harsh and crude in English as they do when they are translated. And that just means that the municipalities save, they have to save and want to save. We have reached a limit with this total of 50 percent tax burden. If we have this limit
then the right-wing populist parties will have an even stronger influx. Moritz Blistrup has already proven that, I think some of you still remember this name, that was a tax refuser from the 1970s. And that is also the case now, that is, the municipalities have to save and try to save by outsourcing, i.e. by giving private individuals access to carry out some of the previously public assistance. And that applies, for example, to home help; But the big question is, of course, whether that really leads to savings.
A fourth problem is of course the great problem of loneliness, the feeling of loneliness. Because it is the case that in an institution, like in a nursing home, you can at least eat together, yes, in most cases, you have neighbors. If you live in an apartment suitable for the elderly and / or stay in your own apartment, which may have been converted, then it may be that you do not have this contact, that you are lonely. And this is where these voluntary services should also take effect, e.g. the Elderly Help Elderly Project; this is a project that worked very well with us, and was also very much supported by the state. That is a problem that we have to acknowledge, and that is not to say that one cannot be isolated in an institution. As you know, that is quite the case.
So I would like to summarize that the light of the Nordic countries may no longer shine as strongly as it used to, but has by no means yet been extinguished. I don't want to be as modest as the previous Dutch speakers, I think they said something like average or mediocre; I would still argue that the Nordic countries are in the top half, but not necessarily at the top anymore. But it seems that nobody wants to be at the top anymore, which in and of itself is questionable. But the light has not yet gone out; but the dynamism, if it has not disappeared, has at least slacked off considerably. Some countries, like Sweden, have gone through very severe crises and have to scale back very much, but at the moment our economies are booming again; As I said earlier, the market economy has definitely won.
And that means that in all of these Nordic countries the solidarity welfare society still exists, but as I said it has become much more liberal, now leaving much more room for individualism. I am now at a school for adults, but the majority of my students are around 20 to 25 years old, and when I discuss solidarity with them, I often find that solidarity has become a negative word among young people. Individualism has prevailed, not just among the young people, keep it, not only because they got it from their parents, that is from us. And of course that is a problem for the welfare society, how it can then be continued, because it sets yes a concept of solidarity ahead and I have described how individualism has got more space with us. We must therefore arrange our future social and senior policy in such a way that there is more scope for individualism, so that we have to offer individualistic solutions. I believe that the young people will revolt against their parents, against us, they will be strongly individualistic like us, but I believe, like their grandparents, they will also have a greater inclination to take responsibility. I know it's a bit optimistic, maybe that's just hope, but I think we are in a process of changing values.This development, which we have been able to observe through "duty" with the grandparents, "inclination" with the parents, to new values that we may not have recognized in such a way, will come where this individualism, it is called by modern researchers " soft individualism “, that is, soft individualism, where this need for individuality is combined with more responsibility, simply out of rebellion against us parents. But I believe that we parents, who we are now going to be the elderly, want to be needed, that we can be an active social resource, that we are looking for co-determination, that we want to take part in decisions, that we want to take on joint responsibility and share responsibility. And that's just an assertion, of course, but I believe it is.
And what will that mean for senior policy? It will mean, as I mentioned earlier, that the seniors' councils will have more influence, that is to say, the influence of the elderly at the local level will increase. With us, as I said, the im
Just a moment, they will only want to be heard, they will also want to participate in the decisions. The new key term will be "integrated care", that is, still in such a way that housing and services go hand in hand. It is still the case that in the north we rely on apartments for the elderly and build these centers for the elderly, that we place much more value on prevention, but that care is much better adapted to the individual. I believe that the elderly want to focus much more on equality and that just means that one does not accept that the elderly, the seniors, are a certain group, but that there should be equality even in old age. And that means politically, that means socially, that means above all in the world of work, that you no longer have these rather rigid regulations on the labor market, as far as withdrawal is concerned, that they have to be made much more flexible. And anyway, that the individual solutions will prevail in society as a whole, but also in senior policy, and will then gradually replace the standard provisions that we now have everywhere.
I believe that politics for the elderly will still be a public task, but with more personal participation and more personal responsibility than is the case now. The new old, and that's still us, are better educated, less authoritarian and alienated, so they are more conscious and more active than our predecessors, and we simply want and demand a better quality of life. And that means senior policy will be less defensive and will have to be more offensive than it is at the moment. And I believe that our generation will ensure that there is more dynamism in senior policy again, that perhaps the light shines a little more. So that the movement is moving from the desire for a higher standard of living towards a better quality of life, that we fall back on the slogan "Give the years more life" or maybe, and I believe that the new keyword will be "Give life more experience" That can be a hope but i believe this is the direction we are headed. And so there is still the light, albeit less lux.
A. Braun: Many thanks to Henning Dochweiler. At least one who has ranked high in my artful formulation of his topic. Now for discussion.
U. Kruse: In connection with the elderly as actors in the political field, in 1993, during the European Year of Seniors, I made a survey about the age breakdown in parliaments. And then I was told that there is an age limit in Norway, no one is allowed to be in Parliament at all. Has this limit been lifted? In Scandinavia, the older generation is well represented in senior citizens' councils, but not in parliaments.
A. Braun: So, Tullia von Sydow, who gave a lecture here in 1997 in our forum “Gender Relations and Old-Age Security”, was elected to the Swedish parliament last time in the elections. Her son is the defense minister there, whom she now controls in parliament. Tullia von Sydow is over 80.
H. Dochweiler: However, this rule only seems to apply in Norway. In Denmark, Finland and Sweden I know that is not the case. And the oldest minister in our country is 74 and we also have MEPs who are even older.
I. Hoffmann: I would like to come back to the network, which is supposed to be omitted; So, in my experience in Sweden, but as far as rural areas are concerned, the network of relatives still works very well there. In any case, I always resisted very much when Ms. Rönsch spoke of the "cold north"; that's not what I experienced at all.
H. Dochweiler: No, I also said at the beginning that of course you can't say that across the board. The people in Scandinavia are not more heartless or colder than others. But the system has it in itself that one can point to the responsibility of the public purse; and some do that too. You mentioned rural areas and it is clear that the network works better in the country, not least in Norway and Sweden, Finland too, with these large areas.
men than in the cities. I don't want to paint that too black either, but I want to call it a problem. One problem we should solve, we just need more commitment.
G. Pels: May I join in and add that people in Holland are also afraid that the network will no longer work. But I think we definitely want the network to be there for social contacts and for pleasant things, that you can go out, that you can go on vacation; What we always did with my parents, for example: as long as it was still possible, we went on vacation together. But that is something that is less easy to ask of strangers. But when it comes to day-to-day care, we are simply not trained to do it; that's where we make mistakes, we don't even need to be there. And that's why we will always say that the network cannot be there to do everyday things in care.
H.H. Albers: So in Denmark there is a very large decisive lobby because there are almost a million people connected in these two organizations. But this lobby should not only be able to anchor senior councils more firmly in politics, in the decision-making bodies, which should also be able to provide networks and things like that at the same time. In principle Denmark is already relatively far advanced in bringing about such things with which we still have difficulties here in Germany. Because the senior advisory councils here are just an alibi function.
I know it from my area as an alibi function; it may be elsewhere, but still not sufficient so far. We also need two such organizations to represent a lobby.
A. Braun: Well, we had a consumer advocate sitting here this morning with Greet Pels. I can very well imagine effective consumer protection for the elderly; all the more so in a system where the municipality, from the point of view of the market, is the sole, powerful provider. It takes a tremendous amount of participation in
the commune, i.e. where it is done. And they have enough to do with ensuring that the elderly are not kept as dependents, that they are not treated as the backbone of the local politicians, but that they have a say in what they are, in what quality and in what way is delivered. They have enough work ahead of them to emancipate the elderly from their communes to the extent that they are not determined completely by others and they are told that you want this and that.
C. Weller: I would like to know again how the taxes are distributed as a percentage. You said there are three taxes: the state tax, the county tax, and the local tax. And how is that distributed then?
Intermediate question: The municipalities are very decisive for the well-being of the elderly. To what extent are the seniors themselves actively involved?
H. Krappatsch: So I was very grateful that almost all of my questions that arose in the course of the lecture were answered at the end of the lecture. I am not entirely sure whether your final sentence, namely the hope that things will change again through the more senior citizens' participation, will come true. Whether this may change the younger generation's awareness of values, of which you spoke in a completely different direction. I suspect that perhaps more should be done in the educational system, in the educational system. In any case, I hope that your hope will really bear fruit.
S. Schmolke: I understood you to mean that the municipality is a developer for senior citizen centers and also takes on the administration. In Baden-Württemberg it is fundamentally different; the municipalities reject this and transfer these tasks to church or charitable associations.
Interjection: No, you can do it yourself, it differs from region to region.
A. Braun: Well, let's do a round of answers here.
H. Dochweiler: Yes, the first question was about taxes. It is the case that the state levies about 2/3 of all direct and indirect taxes. All indirect and all taxes, of course; on cars and alcohol and cigarettes and everything that, as you know, is so expensive in Denmark, in the north in general. That goes to the state, of course, and the state then returns half of this income. The circles represent 10 to 12 percent; it is different, as I said, the districts themselves determine their tax rate and therefore I have to say between 10 and 12%. The municipalities are between 20, 22% and in rare cases below or above. And then there are still between half a percent and one percent for the church tax. That would be the fourth.
As for the role of the elderly, the main emphasis is on activities, because it is also seen as a preventative that active old age also requires activities in working life or in this part of life. And that's why these senior centers are also called “activity centers”. One puts a lot of emphasis on activities and promotes activities. And maybe I can also involve these private or voluntary associations, because that's where they have a role to play when it comes to initiatives. These organizations, clubs and associations still get the money, most of the money, from the commune; but they can, and do, set many activities. Altogether, at least the last number I know, there are around 3,000 such associations in the country that support such activities locally in various ways. So a lot, but as I said, financially they are dependent on the municipality.
You then addressed the generation problem. Will young people meet their responsibilities as we see them, will the intergenerational contract still be valid? And I have to say that I am not so sure about that, and that is why I also said that I am not sure that the universal principle with regard to basic pensions will also be tenable. The fact is that fewer and fewer young people - more children are being born again now, but we know that there is a generation that is very small, in terms of size - has to pay to many old people. And the fact that future taxpayers will pay for more senior citizens and probably also for more children.
having to do this, it puts great economic pressure on them. And that will probably also mean that you are putting something back financially. And I also believe that the shift in objectives from the standard of living to the quality of life will take place. And, as you say, that has to do with the education system. The Danes have always been proud of their educational system; I'm in the middle of it now and I'm not so convinced that I would stick with it here, too: upper half. But I would like to point out that almost a million, 950,000, are active in what we call "evening school". You would call this type of teaching community college. After all, that's still a sign of health.
W. Eckle: I wanted to ask what role does the royal family actually play in Denmark? I remember that when Denmark was occupied by Germany, the king lit himself a Star of David. And the Danish people have produced a worldwide example of solidarity and human sentiment, even beyond their own people, by bringing the majority of the Jews over to Sweden. It is well known that the Scandinavian monarchs are very educated people who have learned a scientific profession at an academic level and can have a say in it. Does that also play a role in the whole thing?
H. Dochweiler: I would say less. Although I fully agree with you that the royal houses are generally respected in these countries, and we are only talking about Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I believe in particular - but maybe I am biased - the Danish Queen; but at least it is very popular. And it is said that 95 percent of Danes would vote for her as president too, but it will not come to that. They are always respected. And the Norwegian royal family also seems to be able to afford that the crown prince will obviously marry a single mother with strange interactions, i.e. friends who have had contact with the criminal milieu. This of course shows that we are in a strong position; but it applies to all three royal houses that they do not intervene - not even with words - in the political life of the country. They make all of these statements, the New Year's addresses, and that is the greatest, but they are
rather, let's say, of a moral, ethical-moral nature and one listens, one listens to them. But politically they are not allowed to express themselves on these issues; and that could of course be one of the reasons why they are so popular.
E. Uthardt: I just wanted to say something about the fact that the older generation is so little represented in parliaments. This is due to the seniors, who do not want to be tied to parties. You can only get into a parliament through a party. I don't know how it is with you.
G. Braun: I have to say that the senior citizens make up a large proportion of the parties; there are quite a few seniors who are party members. So they want to have something to do with a party, otherwise they wouldn't be in.
H. Dochweiler: With us the problem is rather, that applies to Denmark, Norway, Sweden in any case - I am not very familiar with Finland - that there are too few young people in the parties, and that is the problem.
A. Braun: At the moment, the German parties are more likely to be looking for young people than for the older generation.
Well, I take advantage of this art break where nobody is pushing to speak up and thank you very much for the discussion with you. We'll be on time for our lunch break and at 2 p.m. we will continue here. Good Appetite.
© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | April 2001
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