Nelya Rakhimova

Social Resilience and Adaptation in Urban Areas of the United States Facing Financially Insecure Aging

Case Study of Phoenix Metropolitan Area

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Kurzfassung in Englisch

As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age in the coming decades, American metropolitan areas face the serious problem of an increased demand for supportive services. This situation is complicated by the fact that many of the elderly will have limited financial resources, leading to a growing number of seniors struggling with poverty and financial insecurity. At the same time, federal funding for social services is shrinking, and local organizations will play a key role in supporting the low-income elderly in American metropolitan areas.

The concept of social resilience offers a useful starting point for understanding the mechanisms that hinder or enable local communities and individuals, in order to recognize and cope with the slow, continuous changes that these demographic changes present. A resilient metropolitan area is one in which markets, local political structures, communities, and individuals continually adapt to changing conditions. This research focuses on the adaptive resilience of the Phoenix metropolitan area through the ability of systems to support low-income seniors to age in place, independently, for as long as possible. Phoenix is an attractive retirement location, and the case study aims to understand if and how the metropolitan area is preparing for the impending demographic changes, viewed as a lasting disturbance. The research uses a descriptive quantitative approach based on triangulation of an online survey of local governments, expert interviews with representatives of local organizations working with the aging population, and document analysis.

The major findings for the research period from 2012 to 2014 show that local level actors of public and nonprofit sectors demonstrated involvement in the network of support for the aging population, where nonprofit actors are mainly dependent on the decisions and funding of the public sector and rely increasingly on volunteer support. The current study found that only a few of the participating actors from the public sector expressed clear recognition of the extent of financial insecurity among seniors. Research also revealed an understanding of poverty as predominantly focusing on the personal faults of members of society, which does not require any proactive action from the government. The existing network of services is targeted to reactive support services, which promotes individual resilience and responsibilization. Community services, which can provide prolonged independent aging in place, are less developed or in the early stages of development; operation of these services anticipates significant involvement of volunteers as well. Funding shortages challenge the ability of the public and nonprofit sectors to maintain the existing level of support services for a growing population, and actors need to compensate through local partnerships and innovations.

From a theoretical perspective, the research results show that adaptation to the growing number of aging people is emerging in the Phoenix metropolitan area, while financial insecurity is widely considered the personal responsibility of seniors. A reliance on public engagement also refers to individual resilience and can be seen as the next step of a responsibilization process in American society. Thus, the role of individual resilience is growing in American society compared to the role of social or community resilience. A balance should be found that recognizes the power of and limits to both individual and social resilience in creating a social realm that benefits all citizens.

weitere Metadaten

Soziale Widerstandsfähigkeit, Alterung, Armut, Wohlfahrt, soziale Sicherheit, Demographie
social resilience, aging, poverty, welfare, social security, demography
DDC Klassifikation910
RVK KlassifikationRU 10801
HochschuleTechnische Universität Dresden
FakultätFakultät Umweltwissenschaften
ProfessurProfessur für Raumentwicklung
BetreuerProf. Dr. Dr. h. c. Bernhard Müller
GutachterProf. Dr. Dr. h. c. Bernhard Müller
Prof. Dr. David K. Pijawka
apl. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Köppen
Tag d. Einreichung (bei der Fakultät)26.10.2015
Tag d. Verteidigung / Kolloquiums / Prüfung29.06.2016
Veröffentlichungsdatum (online)23.05.2017
persistente URNurn:nbn:de:bsz:14-qucosa-223588

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