Bulgaria’s Forgotten Elderly: a human ecosystem approach to ageing (2015 – 2017)

Principal Investigator: Deljana Iossifova

Funding: University of Manchester (Research Stimulation and Impact Fund, Social Responsibility Research Stimulation Fund)

Due to low fertility rates and unprecedented outmigration of young people, Bulgaria’s population has decreased by 1.5 million in only 30 years and stands now at 7.1 million; the country is ranked fourth in the world for its proportion of people above the age of 60. Following massive international as well as internal rural-to-urban migration, Bulgaria’s elderly are left behind to cope without support. Two thirds of them are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The everyday challenges they face in cities, towns and villages remain relatively unexplored.

In order to deploy appropriate interventions, policy makers and other stakeholders at the local, national and international levels require an in-depth understanding of the main concerns of senior citizens.

This project sheds light on the lived experience of abandoned elderly in the context of Bulgaria’s rapid economic downturn and population shrinkage.

Fieldwork activities include spatial mapping and interviews with senior citizens inSofia, Bulgaria’s capital city (app. 1.3 million residents); Gabrovo, a township in the Central Balkan Mountains, where old-age dependency ratio currently stands at 41.1 per cent (app. 59,000 residents); and Shipka, a shrinking nearby village marked by the exodus of young people – and the unexplained arrival of pensioners from Japan (app. 1,400 residents).

In-depth life-history interviews, photo-elicitation interviews and methods such as participant photography are deployed to understand senior citizens’ patterns of everyday life and how they are sociospatially embedded across three distinct but interconnected scales (the home, the immediate (urban) environment; and the everyday commute).

Findings will be used to raise awareness among policy makers in Bulgaria, in the UK and at EU level and provide recommendations for public policy interventions at various levels of governance.


Posts | January 7, 2016 1:08 pm