The more digitalized a society becomes, the greater the risk of older people being excluded from different parts of the welfare system. This is according to a new thesis at Örebro University that compares the situation for the elderly in Sweden with Greece.
In a new thesis, Sofia Alexopoulou, researcher in political science, has analyzed and compared how the rapid technological development affects the elderly population in Sweden compared to Greece. The thesis is a compilation of articles and consists of two qualitative case studies, a comparative study and a literature review where older people from both countries were also interviewed.
The “grey digital divide” refers to the fact that older people have difficulty keeping up with technological developments, which becomes a serious problem for both the individual and society, says Alexopoulou.
– In Sweden, bank ID is a clear example of how digital technology can be exclusionary. Not having a bank ID is like being a ghost that prevents you from participating in society on equal terms, she says in a commentary at Örebro University published by forskning.se.
One negative consequence is that older people are often unable to benefit from the welfare services that are available, as they are unable to apply the technology that these require.
In Sweden, digital assistance is provided by the family, although the municipalities have the main responsibility for elderly care. At the same time, many older people are more reluctant to ask family members for help in Sweden than in Greece, where people are more confident in asking their families for help. Alexopoulou suggests that one step forward in Sweden would be for younger people to share their digital skills with older people.